St Peter's, still gracing Marlborough's skyline forty years on from nearly becoming a roundabout

Written by Sue Round on .

St Peters Church, the High Street's Western landmarkSt Peters Church, the High Street's Western landmarkOh so nearly a traffic feature!  St Peter’s and St Paul’s Marlborough Trust was formed in 1978 to save St Peter’s Church from possible demolition.  Rumours were rife that the church would be demolished to make way for a roundabout!

The intervening forty years has seen the Trust renovating the church and turning it into a vibrant community centre with a thriving café, arts and crafts shop, exhibitions, concerts, lectures and a space used by a variety of local organisations, such as the Community Choir, Marlborough Players and Marlborough History Society.

Celebrations to mark the forty years include a Flower Festival (June 30 - July 6) and the Annual Festal Evensong Sunday July 1, to be led this year by Rev.Canon Keith Lamdin.  In order to thank the local community for their support of the Trust, hire fees for the use of the church by local people and organisations have been waived for the whole of 2018.

David Du Croz chairman of St Peter's and St Paul's Trust inside St Peter'sDavid Du Croz chairman of St Peter's and St Paul's Trust inside St Peter'sDavid Du Croz, chairman of the Trust told, “Although officially St Peter’s is a redundant church, it is quite the opposite.  It’s busy, bright and buzzy and a wonderful community venue.  From the beginning of January to the end of March this year the church will have been used on forty different evening occasions.

“People love coming here. It’s amazing that some people don’t know we exist.  People who come in for the first time are amazed at what they find.”

Parts of St Peter’s dates back to the fifteenth century but it was restored in the Victorian era. The Trust has worked hard to ensure a regular programme of renovations.  Three years ago the North Aisle roof was renovated and more recently the South Aisle roof.  The latest project has seen the chancel arch restored. The arch now displays the original decoration from the 1860’s. It had been painted over in the 1920’s.

Since 2001, following the efforts of many volunteers and an English Heritage Lottery Fund grant, restoration and repair work has made it possible to climb the 139 steps to the top of the tower for the best view in Marlborough. Tours of the tower run most Saturdays from Easter to early October.

Newly restored chancel arch St Peter'sNewly restored chancel arch St Peter'sAs well as the rents and fees collected from those who use the building, the Trust relies on the financial generosity and voluntary efforts of many Friends.  Yearly costs are in the region of £25,000, so it was very good news when Vodafone asked to place their signal boosters in the bell chamber thus providing some welcome additional income.

“St Peter’s,” says David Du Croz,“ is a wonderful example of a community project in action, providing local residents and visitors alike with a beautifully preserved historic building for the use and appreciation by anyone and everyone.”

However, the Trust is always looking for more volunteers.  In particular, volunteer help is needed in the garden, with tours of the tower and to manage the website.