Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: July 03, 2017
Webpage updated: February 25, 2019




The Anglican Church of Saint Peter the Apostle is situated in Wyndham Square, Plymouth.  It is now the head of the Parish of Saint Peter and the Holy Apostles, which includes the Anglican Church of Saint Thomas and the Anglican Church of James the Less..

The ecclesiastical parish was formed in 1847 from Saint Andrew's, Plymouth, and Saint George's, East Stonehouse.

Following an Act of Parliament in 1843, the Bishop of Exeter, Doctor Henry Phillpotts, decided that there was a need in Plymouth for three new parishes to make better provision for the spiritual care of the neighbourhood.   The population of the parish of St Andrew's was 23,564 in 1841 and it was increasing all the time.  As a result, in 1847 the new parishes of St Peter's, Saint James the Less and Saint John the Evangelist were set up, the latter being created from the parish of Charles.

The first incumbent of Saint Peter's, the Reverend Edward Godfrey, acquired the empty building known as the Eldad Chapel in Wyndham Square.  This had originally been erected in 1830 by the admirers of the Reverend J Hawker, the sturdy Protestant curate at Stoke Damerel Church, and the son of the famous vicar of Plymouth's Charles Church.  Hawker seceded from the Church of England after 30 years as a protest against the Catholic emancipation and Eldad Chapel was built so he might continue preaching to his followers.  It was purchased from the trustees for 3,550, including the fittings.

Mr Godfrey resigned in May 1848 after only six months and it was left to the Reverend George Rundle Prynne, appointed on August 16th 1848, to fit up and re-open the Chapel as Saint Peter's Church in the November of that year.

Immediately the young vicar started to make alterations to make the Church more attractive and acceptable.  By 1850 a chancel designed by Mr George E Street had been added to the old Chapel building and the Church was consecrated on October 5th 1850 by the Bishop of Exeter, Doctor Phillpotts.  As the Reverend Prynne was the first Puseyite clergyman at Plymouth, he met with much violent opposition and police protection had to be provided on the day of the consecration although it turned out to be unnecessary.  It was alleged that the Reverend Doctor Pusey himself was present at the event under the assumed name of Doctor Grey.

After that he started to work on the creation of a school, details of which are given elsewhere on this website.

The shrine of Saint Francis.
From a postcard.

A Mission Chapel, the Chapel of the Good Shepherd, was opened in Octagon Street in 1862.

The Anglican Church of Saint Peter the Apostle was consecrated during a ceremony on the morning of Wednesday February 1st 1882.

At that time the Church had a very handsome South Porch, a chancel screen, a south parclose screen, and a Chapel.  However, the Church was not finished and in February 1887 a meeting was held in the Girls' Schoolroom to consider its completion.  It was considered necessary to enclose the Church in order to prevent defacement and desecration.  This work, along with work on the roof, cost 400.  A further 2,000 was required to finish the Tower and fleche and other necessary work to the fabric of the building.  The Reverend Prynne expressed the wish that the work would be completed during his lifetime.  A General Building Committee of twelve men was appointed and also a Ladies' Committee.  Mr R P Jackson was chosen as secretary of the Committee and Mr C A Shapcote, Royal Navy, was appointed treasurer.

The church is of native limestone in the Early English style.  It has a Lady Chapel, south porch and a huge copper-capped western tower, the spire of which was completed in 1906.

The Lady Chapel at St Peter's Church, Plymouth

The Lady Chapel at St Peter's Church, Plymouth.

There is a mural painting in memory of the Reverend George R Prynne, the vicar here for 55 years.  The church was destroyed by enemy action in the Blitz of 1941 and the services were held in 1953 in Little Saint Peter's in Wyndham Street East.  It was restored by Mr Frederick Etchells and subsequently re-consecrated in 1956.

During 2007 the Parish was reorganised and the Church of Saint Peter redecorated.  The famous green top to its tower also disappeared at that time.