At the sign of the Barking lion...

St Peter, Bury St Edmunds

At the sign of the Barking lion...

home index e-mail what's new? - a journey through the churches of Suffolk

Bury St Peter

  Set in the 19th Century terraces just to the west of the town centre is the church of St Peter. This is near to the famous Greene King brewery. St Peter was built as a mission outstation of the vast church of St Mary, and until recently still had a sign saying 'St Peter's District Church' outside. It is a surprisingly large church, yellow banded brick and Suffolk flint of the 1850s, with a tower that serves as a south porch in the Ipswich manner, surmounted by a sturdy spire that is more from the Midlands. I rather liked it - on this grim day it looked very dramatic in the drizzle beneath the black clouds.

The architect was John Hakewill, brother of the more famous Edward. John's major moment in Suffolk is the rebuilding of Thurston, but I prefer this one, despite the fact that it isn't particularly in the Suffolk style, apart from the flint. It has a wide grass area which can never have been used for burials. At one time it formed the playing fields for the adjacent St Mary's School, but this has now closed.

I'm told that the interior underwent a considerable reordering in the first decade of the 21st Century, which doesn't surprise me, although as the church is kept locked there is no easy way of telling how good it is. But the exterior alone is worth a look, a quiet and perhaps a little surprising Victorian moment in a town full of surprises, lots of interesting areas, fascinating churches, and the feel of a town far larger and more important than it is. 

Simon Knott, September 2000, updated and revised August 2015

south door west door St Peter



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