Winchcombe Parish Church of St Peter, Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom.
St Peter’s Church in Winchcombe has been in existence from at least 1175, when it was closely associated with the abbey that once stood to the east of the church.
The present building on Gloucester Street dates from 1468 (constructed between 1454–1470), and remains externally very much as it was when it was built. Because the church was a complete rebuild, it is uniformly English Gothic in the style of the “perpendicular” period of architecture.
When we arrived in the early evening, we entered the gate to find that the church had already closed, so we decided to walk around the exterior.
Here is a nice view of Gloucester Street and the entrance area of St Peter’s along with a bit of the cemetery that we had to walk through (trying not to step on any graves) as we made our way to the church’s east end. Most of the grave stones were so old that we could not read them.
On top of the tower sits a golden rooster weather vane (a.k.a. weathercock). In the 9th century, a papal decree ordered that every church must have the symbol of a cockerel on its dome or steeple as a reference to Jesus’ prophecy that Peter would betray Jesus before the rooster crowed on the morning following the Last Supper.
Viewing the side of St Peter’s one can see the grotesques for which the church is noted. According to Britain Express, the church boasts 40 of these carvings; about 20 depict demonic creatures and the remainder appear to be caricatures of locally important people, both civic figures and church officials.
Here’s a close up of one of the more photographed grotesques. This figure is said to be the model for the Mad Hatter in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.
The east window glass depicts Jesus with St Peter walking on the water. Although I saw the church’s interior, including this window, on a previous visit, I failed to bring my camera, so I’ll have to return when the church is open. For now, notice that even the arch above the window ends in carved heads. Also, pay attention to the grotesque above the window. A close up is below.
I could not find a definitive explanation of this grotesque although one website referred to it as a representation of the king of demons. I do hope that is true in that it is not a depiction of a local notable, because it is quite gruesome looking.
While admiring the wicked-looking carving, rain suddenly (or expectedly in England) began to fall. For some reason rain seemed appropriate at that moment. (A raindrop can even be seen zipping across the photo). As a result, we ended our church visit, giving me one more reason return to Winchcombe some day soon.
Note: Some of these photos were taken on different days, but most were taken on the day of the visit described.