St Peters

Wapley

Serene and sentinel, this fine old Cotswold Church overlooks the cottages and dwellings among the trees below the hill in Wapley.

 

This spectacular scene from Wapley Hill, provides visitors with a veritable feast of a view of the Severn Valley and on a clear day, to the Welsh hills.

 

People have worshipped here in Wapley for more than 760 years.

Inside Wapley Church

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Serene and sentinel, this fine old Cotswold Church overlooks the cottages and dwellings among the trees below the hill in Wapley.

 

This spectacular scene from Wapley Hill, provides visitors with a veritable feast of a view of the Severn Valley and on a clear day, to the Welsh hills.

 

People have worshipped here in Wapley for more than 760 years.

 

This fine church is reached via a long drive, set among yew trees. Immediately the glory of the thirteenth century tower predominates, with pierced stone work in the belfry windows, a charming sound-hole with two rows of dainty quatrefoils and a stair turret crowned by a small spire.

Bell Tower:

The tower houses six bells and is built in traditional English style battlements and pinnacles. Two of the bells are pre-reformation and both the tower and door are thirteenth century, likewise the windows.

What to see inside the church. 

On entering the porch, with its lovely old arch and stone benches one sees hanging on the left wall an inventory of the parish priests. The first recorded priest is shown as being the Revd. Joachim in 1269.

Once inside the church one is faced with the font, which was replaced in 1860, although the original basal slab was retained and is still in good order.

In the chancel lies the charm of the interior. Here are the walls of irregular stones which are broken by fifteenth century windows deeply set in wide sprays of an earlier time.

A cherub is carved on the pulpit together with much interesting oak working attached. The hole behind the pulpit is a squint, an opening in an inside wall giving a view of the high Altar.

The Altar Rails are composed of the fifteenth century rood screen and the fine panelling to the Sanctuary, is believed to have come from Bristol Cathedral.

 

There are more old carvings on the lower Altar rails showing tracery and vases with flames, as well as cherubs and a carving of tulips and roses.

 

The Jacobean panelling across the east wall has rich arcading, buttresses, pinnacles and shields.

The Coat of Arms on each side of the Altar are, on the left, The Codrington Coat of Arms and on the right, the Berkeley Coat of Arms.

Probably one of the most dominating features of the church is the Codrington Tomb. In the tomb lies Sir John Codrington, founder of a family long known in the parish. He was standard bearer to Henry V at the battle of Agincourt, in 1415, and is said to have lived to be one hundred and eleven years old.

 

It is believed he was responsible for the building of the Lady Chapel (sometimes known as the Codrington Chapel) and to whose memory it was rebuilt.

The adjoining village to Wapley, in honour, bears the family name, Codrington.

 

On the wall above, near the tomb, is a queer stone figure with wings, holding a book. This piscina, a niche in the wall by the altar, at one time was used by the priest to wash the chalice and his hands at mass.

 

At the opening to the Lady Chapel, which incidentally is as wide as the chancel, there are two richly panelling arches.

 

The eastern one, resting on the Codrington Tomb, has quatrefoils around the sides, with two crosses engraved on the top.

 

The oak chest, by the entrance to the Lady Chapel, was in the church before the visitation of Archbishop Cranmer in 1548. It also has two old locks with keys and padlocks.

There are two lovely coloured windows, one in the east elevation and one in the west elevation. The east window was placed with funds raised by the Revd. D. H. Cogswell and dedicated by the Bishop of Bristol in November 1909. The same vicar was responsible for the recasting of the tenor bell.

Behind the font hangs the Coat of Arms of the Wynne family, of which a more recent incumbent, the Revd. W. A. Wynne, was a member.

In 1862, this Wapley Church was partially restored, the repairs to the chancel being undertaken by C. W. Codrington esq. Further repairs were carried out in 1897 and again in 1900, when the tower was restored and bells rehung, providing a peel of 5 bells.

Restoring Wapley Church:

The church was completely reroofed in the late 1980’s and also a new organ was purchased.

 

In 2000 the bells were removed and a new steel bell-frame installed in the old ringing chamber (the old oak medieval bell-frame had become dangerous but needed to be preserved and retained in its original position).

 

Four of the old bells were retained and returned, the tenor bell was replaced and a new, sixth bell cast. The old tenor bell was sold to a church in Hong Kong.

 

The bells were dedicated by the Bishop Barry, the Bishop of Bristol, during the Patronal Festival in 2000.

 

Restoration and upkeep is continual to preserve this part of English heritage.

01454 313105

Yate, Bristol, UK

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