Winchcombe’s Impressive Parish Church

Winchcombe Parish Church of St Peter

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.

Winchcombe Parish Church of St Peter, Gloucestershire, United KingdomThe 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.

Winchcombe Parish Church of St Peter

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.

Winchcombe Parish Church PathIf we had followed the path to our left, we could have seen the west side of the church, but we were initially drawn towards the east for a closer look at the church’s carvings and gravestones.

Winchcombe Parish Church of St Peter, Gloucestershire, United KingdomHere 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.

Winchcombe Church RoosterOn 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.

Side of Winchcombe Parish Church of St PeterViewing 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.

Face on Winchcombe Parish ChurchHere’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.

Winchcombe Parish Church of St PeterEven farther towards the east sits a bench beside hollyhocks.

Winchcombe Parish Church of St PeterThis photo was taken from the corner of the church’s east end. From here one can see the entry gate, the weathercock, and a smidge of the east window.

Rear of Winchcombe Parish Church of St Peter

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.

Creature on Winchcombe Parish ChurchI 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.

About satnavandcider

An American expat living in England, exploring the United Kingdom and Europe through five senses and a camera lens.
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8 Responses to Winchcombe’s Impressive Parish Church

  1. The architecture of churches in England is amazing. Your photos create an image of time years ago. Thanks for sharing. Cheers.

  2. avian101 says:

    Excellent captures! 🙂

  3. Great pictures – well done!

  4. What great details! I love the grotesques (the Mad Hatter! I can see it!)–it is as if these creatures are trying to escape from the church’s wall, each one with its own wicked story. It adds some spice to the otherwise sleepy and serene setting. Thank you for a lovely escape.

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