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Report - St Peter's Church, Wakefield, January 2012


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St Peter's Church, Wakefield

At the end of the war with France and after the Battle of Waterloo, the country of Austria was made to pay a large amount of money to this country as war indemnity. Out of this a sum of one million pounds was devoted to providing churches in areas which needed them, the Church at Stanley was the first to be built. The foundation stone was laid on l3th September, 1822 by Francis Maude of Hatfield Hall who was a barrister in Wakefield. The Church was opened nearly two years later on 6th September, 1824.






Stanley Church was improved firstly by John Maude of Moorhouse, who spent £1100 in alterations to the church, and also by Rev. Richard Burrell, who was also responsible for numerous improvements. By the year 1911 the church consisted of a nave with aisles, no galleries but with open pews, an enlarged chancel with oak screen and choir stalls. The East and West windows had been glazed by John Maude, the west window containing the arms of Maude of Moorhouse - "Argent, three bars gemelles sa, surmounted by a lion rampant, gules charged on the shoulder with a cross crosslet or. Crest - A lion's head charged with a cross." The inscription read as follows - "Mary Maude, of Moorhouse, restored and beautified this church A.D. 1851." Another window was glazed in memory of Mr. Haigh of the building society and another to his sister by a Miss Spence and a Mrs Barratt.

On February 18th, 1911 a terrible fire occurred. The building was completely gutted and only the outer walls remained. The fire was noticed at about three o'clock and the fire brigade was sent for. Unfortunately the local fire-fighting facilities were very poor and it was some time before a suitable engine was sent for from Wakefield. By this time the Church was beyond hope and as the steam fire engine arrived the roof collapsed and an impressive burst of flame leapt upwards.




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Fortunately brave church workers had been very busy trying to rescue as much as possible from the interior of the church -vestments, documents, church plate, especially the brass lectern, costing almost £100, which the congregation had presented to the Church as a memorial to Rev. Richard Burrell. It appears that the fire was caused by the pitch pine roof being ignited by heat from the boiler which was situated at the east end of the church in the vaults.





The church authorities at Stanley wasted no time and a fund was opened for the rebuilding of the church. Correspondence began between them and Mr. W. Douglas Caroe, Architect to the Ecclesiastical Commission. The first meeting of the Building Committee was held on 9th March, 1911. Mr. Caroe under-took the work of designing and supervising the restoration of the church and Messrs. Wilcock & Co., of Wolverhampton, undertook the building. They gave an estimate of £10,540 for the work, the final total cost being over £10,700. The central heating was constructed by the Leeds Marble Company. The shell of the gutted church was used in the construction of the new building. The interior stonework was constructed of Ancaster stone, the exterior of Halifax stone. A large chancel was constructed at the East End to house the choir and high altar. The church was re-opened on July 5th, 1913.

The congregation of St Peter’s moved from the old church into the Church Centre in December 2001 as it had become overwhelmingly difficult to maintain the building and to keep it warm.

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