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St Peter's Church, Devizes

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St Peter's Church, Devizes

Coordinates: 51°21′14″N 2°00′22″W / 51.354°N 2.006°W / 51.354; -2.006

St Peter's Church, Devizes
Denomination Church of England
Churchmanship Anglo-Catholic
Website Dedication St. Peter
Administration
Deanery Devizes
Archdeaconry Wiltshire
Diocese Salisbury
Province Canterbury
Clergy
Priest(s) Fr Peter Moss SSC
Assistant Fr John Goodman, Fr Derek Frost
Laity
Organist(s) Adrian Newman
Churchwarden(s) Jim Hurst, Jean Hosie

St Peter's Church is one of four Anglican churches in Devizes, Wiltshire. It is a Victorian church and is situated on the Bath Road, Devizes. It is in the Anglican Diocese of Salisbury but is under the Episcopal care of the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, having passed the Act of Synod. St Peter's is looked after by Fr Peter Moss, SSC, a house-for-duty priest. It is also a member of the Devizes Partnership of Churches, an ecumenical charity of all the Christian churches in Devizes (except from the Old Baptist Church on Maryport Street).

Background

St. Peter's is an Anglo-Catholic parish church in Devizes, Wiltshire. It is the youngest of the four Church of England churches in Devizes (it was founded in 1866) and is a member of the pressure group Forward in Faith, being a beacon church in the area. It is in the Diocese of Salisbury, but their PEV (flying bishop) is the Bishop of Ebbsfleet. Resolutions A, B and C have been passed. There is also a Church of England junior school next door to the church, St. Peter's School. The church normally attracts roughly 50-60 people for the Sunday Sung Mass, which is always held at 10.00am. This service lasts for roughly an hour and a half, with coffee and biscuits after. There is a Sunday School at St. Peter's that meets during the Sung Mass. Other services at St. Peter's are a low mass every Thursday evening, and Benediction once a month. Confessions are also heard by the priest twice a week. Evening prayers are held on weekday and Saturday evenings. A history book about the church was written in 1991 by parishioner Terry Gaylard, who is also the Editor of the Parish Newspaper, 'Church News,' which is published monthly and can be viewed on the St Peter's website.There is an article on St. Peter's Church on the Devizes heritage website.St. Peter's Church

The future of St Peter's

The future of St Peter's Church is uncertain. St Peter's is a Forward in Faith church and as a majority of the congregation oppose women priests, they may leave the Church of England in 2014, when the first women bishops will be enthroned. The Bishop of Ebbsfleet has appealed to the Roman Catholic Church and he may want to move his parishes to Rome.

The PCC of St Peter's have come up with an idea to build a kitchen and toilets extension on the church, which is being discussed at the moment and seems very likely. Another building project needed is the re-roofing and revamping of the Lady Chapel, which suffers from damp.

Another issue at St Peter's is the lack of youth within the congregation. The church only has three congregants under the age of 18, and is mainly made up of people over 60. This is a problem that must be tackled if St Peter's is to survive as a church. In 2009, Fr Peter wrote in 'Church News,' the St Peter's parish newspaper, that this was the greatest problem facing St Peter's. In the September 2009 edition of Church News, Fr Peter Moss announced that the Bishop of Salisbury has renewed his licence at St Peter's for as long as he wants to stay there.

In response to the Pope's offer in October 2009 to allow Anglican parishes to convert, Fr Peter Moss told his congregants to think carefully before making any decisions. In late 2010, St Peter's joined the new Society of St Wilfred and St Hilda, with a view to remaining part of the Catholic tradition within the Anglican Church.

Services

Below is a list of the services held at St. Peter's:

Weekdays - Morning Prayer (8.00 am)

Evening Prayer (6.00 pm)

Thursday - Low Mass (7.00 pm)

Sunday - Low Mass (BCP) (8.00 am)

Morning Prayer (9.15 am)

High Mass (10.00 am)

Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament (5.00 pm) (1st Sunday in the month only)

Structure of High Mass at St Peter's

The main service at St. Peter's, the Sunday morning High Mass, takes a typical Anglo-Catholic format. It includes two readings, a sermon from the priest and Holy Communion, as well as the expected ceremony and ritual of incense, vestments and choral singing. The mass under Fr Peter Moss has taken a more Roman Catholic approach as it always concludes with the Angelus being said in the Lady Chapel in front of a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is censed by the priest.

Senior figures in St Peter's Church

  • In November 2009, both churchwardens, John Kirk and Robin Thwaites, resigned. John resigned due to ill health and Robin because of his distance from the church, living in Westbury. The replacement churchwardens were elected at the church's AGM on 11 April 2010. They are Jim Hurst, formerly PCC Secretary, and sacristan Jean Hosie. Jim Hurst was replaced as Secretary by Ann Reeves, whilst Jean Hosie agreed to continue as Sacristan as well as Churchwarden.

Clergy

The priest-in-charge of St Peter's is Fr Peter Moss, who has served in this position since 2005. He is assisted by Fr John Goodman and Fr Derek Frost, two retired priests.

Current members of the serving team

  • David Purchas (Head Server)
  • John Kirk
  • Ian Bradley
  • John Hunt
  • Miles Taylor
  • Alex Penfold-Burt
  • George Reeves

Current members of the choir

  • Comfort Moss
  • Elizabeth Dobson
  • Marilyn Brown
  • Carol Pritchard
  • Ann Girvan
  • Margaret Parkinson
  • Jan Gaylard
  • Marian King

List of priests of St Peter's Church, Devizes

Priest's Name From Major Achievements
Harold Grindle 1866 Was the first Priest of St Peter's
Arthur Devas 1885 Oversaw a period of growth, built chancel screen
Frederick Phipps 1901 Started Anglo-Catholic tradition, introduced incense, focussed on ceremonial, was Rural Dean
George F. George 1935 Designed the new High Altar
Cyril Reeves Palmer 1939 -
Sidney Wyman 1941 -
George Hamilton Douglas 1944 -
Douglas Bryant 1950 Increased devotional atmosphere, installed new heating system
Vernon Thomas 1957 Re-wired and re-roofed the whole church
Henry Maude 1966 -
John Croft 1974 Increased ceremonial, encouraged boys' choir and child involvement at the church
Brian Tigwell 1985 Toned down ceremonial in favour of a more subtle Anglo-Catholicism, was Rural Dean, re-decorated church
Leslie Attwood 2000 -
John Goodman (interim) 2002 Kept St Peter's stable at a very low point of its history
Peter Moss 2005 Brought St Peter's fully into Forward in Faith, increased ceremonial

History

St Peter's Church was built in the 1860s after Rev Benjamin Dowding, the Priest of St James' Church, Devizes, decided that Devizes needed another church that was nearer to the Kennet and Avon Canal, which flows through Devizes.

The first priest of St Peter's was Fr Harold Grindle, who was loved by the parishioners and who was very giving, and did a lot of work to help the poor. However, he died in 1885, aged 50, whilst he was still the Priest of St Peter's. His successor was Arthur Devas, who also died in office and who built the chancel screen inside the church. However, he never lived to see its completion.

The third priest of St Peter's was Canon Frederick Phipps, who served for 34 years until his death, aged 76. Canon Phipps was a prominent Anglo-Catholic and introduced the use of incense in worship at St Peter's. A photo of Phipps still remains on the postcards of St Peter's, which can be bought from the back of the church. Phipps also served as Rural Dean of Devizes for many years and was well known in the diocese.

Canon Phipps was succeeded by Canon George F. George, an architect by trade who had been in Holy Orders for 18 years and had previously worked in South Africa. Canon George designed the new High Altar and moved the original one into the Lady Chapel.

During World War II, St Peter's Church had three short-serving priests. They were Cyril Reeves Palmer (1939–1941), Sydney Wyman (1941–1944) and George Hamilton Douglas (1944–1950).

In 1950, Douglas Bryant became priest. He was priest of St Peter's for seven years and in that time, he did much to increase the church's devotional atmosphere. He eventually became a Canon of Guildford Cathedral. Whilst he was at St Peter's, Bryant also installed a new electric heating system in the church, to replace the old boiler. Bryant's son, Mark Bryant, is now the Bishop of Jarrow.

Vernon Thomas, who was from Wales, was the next priest, and he launched a Christian Stewardship campaign to raise money for the church. As a result of Fr Thomas' campaign, the church was able to raise enough funds to re-wire the whole church and re-roof the South Aisle.

Fr Henry Maude was then priest from 1966–1974, and was replaced by Fr John Croft, a conservative Anglo-Catholic who was a former Laybrother of the Community of the Resurrection, at Mirfield. However, Fr John died in 1985, aged 58.

Fr John Croft was succeeded by Fr Brian Tigwell, a more liberal Anglo-Catholic who did away with traditions such as Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament that had been advocated by his more Catholic successor (most of these traditions, including Benediction, have now been restored). However, Fr Brian increased the amount of money given to the poor and disadvantaged. He also forged a strong link between the church and the school, and attracted large congregations. He could especially connect to the children and was loved by the students of St Peter's School. Fr Brian also completely re-decorated the inside of the church, and installed a new electrical lighting system. He also served as Rural Dean of Devizes from 1993-1998. Although Fr Brian was fairly liberal on the issue of the ordination of women in the Church of England, it was whilst he was priest that the church PCC voted in favour of passing Resolutions A and B. When Fr Brian left St Peter's in 1999, he gave the church a thurible that he had previously owned as a gift of thanks.

Fr Brian sought early retirement in 1999, aged only 63, and was replaced after an interregnum of one year by Fr Leslie Attwood, a priest from Cornwall. Fr Leslie only served as priest for two years as he was offered another job elsewhere.

When Fr Leslie resigned in 2002, the church then went through the longest interregnum of any Devizes church. It wasn't until 2005 that they finally appointed another priest. During this interregnum, the Assistant Priest, Fr John Goodman, took over the day-to-day running of the church as acting priest. This was a dark period for St Peter's and there were fears of its closure.

However, in 2005 a new priest, Fr Peter Moss, was appointed, and he remains the Priest of St Peter's to this day. Fr Peter has done a lot to improve the worship at St Peter's by introducing the use of the Angelus and focussing on the Communion of Saints. Under Fr Peter, St Peter's has also passed Resolution C, becoming a full member of Forward in Faith. Recently, St Peter's has refurbished their pipe organ, redecorated the entrance porch and replaced the old Stations of the Cross with new ones that were given to St Peter's by the local Roman Catholic Church.

Stations and icons

St Peter's has a lovely, hand-carved, wooden collection of Stations of the Cross that decorate the walls of the church. It also has a collection of icons, including one of St Paul and one of St Peter, which was given to the church by a parishioner, Estelle Holloway.

Ecumenicalism and relations with other churches in Devizes

St Peter's is heavily involved in ecumenical activities with the other Christian churches in Devizes of other denominations. It is a member of the Devizes Partnership of Churches and recently took part in the 'Believing in Devizes' week.

St Peter's is also very close to the Catholic Church of Our Lady the Immaculate Conception, the Catholic church in Devizes.

Rural Dean of Devizes

Only two priests of St Peter's Church have ever served as Rural Dean of Devizes. They were Canon Frederick Phipps, the church's longest serving priest ever, and Fr Brian Tigwell, who is now retired and lives in Somerset with his wife, Mary. The current Rural Dean of Devizes is Rev Sallyanne Attwater, priest of The Church of St Mary the Virgin, Bishops Cannings.

List of modern Rural Deans of Devizes

Rural Dean's Name From Church
Con Williams 1983 St John's Church, Devizes
Christopher Bryant 1988 St John's Church, Devizes
Brian Tigwell 1993 St Peter's Church, Devizes
John Record 1998 St John's Church, Devizes
Sallyanne Attwater 2007 Church of St Mary the Virgin, Bishops Cannings
Paul Richardson 2010 St John's Church, Devizes

St Peter's Primary School

St Peter's Church of England Primary School is a state funded school situated next door to the church on Bath Road, Devizes. The priest of St Peter's is normally the Chair of Governors of the school and the current Headteacher of St Peter's School is Miss Catherine Davis, who took over from Mrs Sandy Fletcher in 2009.

List of headteachers of St Peter's Primary School, Devizes

Head's Name From
Charles Stone 1870
John Stooke 1874
Alfred Moore 1887
William Bowers 1889
Samuel White 1892
Percival Greed 1930
Brian James 1968
John Corby 1991
Sandy Fletcher 1998
Catherine Davis 2009

External links

  • The website of the church
  • The website of the school
  • St Peter's entry on the online Anglican churches database 'A Church Near You.'
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