History Files


Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of Cambridgeshire

by Peter Kessler, 3 May 2009. Updated 2 December 2009



Peterborough Part 2: Churches of Peterborough, Westwood & Werrington

Westgate Church, Peterborough

The Westgate Church lies on Westgate, near the junction with Cromwell Road. The Methodist congregation here was founded in 1776-1777 by the Reverend Craddock Glascott, chaplain to the Countess of Huntingdon. They first worshipped in his Westgate Lodgings, but in 1780 a small chapel was erected on Wood Street, off Westgate. However, following much persecution and abuse the chapel closed in 1797. It reopened in 1804, and very soon a larger building was needed.

Westgate Church, Peterborough

Land was bought opposite the chapel in Westgate and in 1859 the present building was opened as a Congregational church. In January 1891 the church was destroyed by fire, but quickly rebuilt and reopened that July. In 1972 it became the United Reformed Church and then merged in 1978 with Wentworth St Methodist Church to form a United Church. It was damaged again by fire in 1984, repaired once again, and now shares an alternating URC and Methodist ministry.

St Paul's Church, Peterborough

St Paul's Church faces onto Bourges Boulevard and Lincoln Road in the New England area of the city. Its parish only came into existence with the advent of the railways in the nineteenth century, and the Victorian church building was completed in 1869, along with bell tower and single bell. A church hall was added alongside it in 1905 and still retains the style and decor of a traditional church hall. The church bell fell silent in 1969 when the ropes snapped.

St Paul's Church, Peterborough

In April 2002 an investigation was carried out to discover the source of the water leak onto the centre of the nave. It was soon discovered that the combined cross and weathervane was loose in its wooden mounting and needed to be removed. Better news arrived in 2009 when the bell could finally be heard once more. In the churchyard, what was thought to be a worn, sandstone gravestone was discovered to be the parish's long-forgotten war memorial.

Salvation Army, Peterborough

The Salvation Army Church & Community Centre lies opposite St Paul's. The Army came to Peterborough on 21 April 1883, but meetings were met by vocal and violent opposition which included egg and refuse throwing and chairs being broken and thrown about on the stage. Even as late as 1917 hooligans would follow the marches, calling out insults, and the police would sometimes warn the Army not to sing on the streets. Now, they have a new citadel which opened in May 1985.

New Testament Church of God, Peterborough

The New Testament Church of God is at 641 Lincoln Road in New England, just 120 metres (131 yards) north of St Paul's. While the Pentecostal roots of the New Testament Church date back to 1886 in Tennessee in the USA, the Victorian chapel in which they now worship was probably built around the same time, although the nature of its nonconformist congregation cannot be discovered. It now forms one of ninety-eight New Testament churches and seven missions in the UK.

Sacred Heart & St Oswald's Parish Catholic Church, Peterborough

Sacred Heart & St Oswald's Parish Catholic Church is at 933 Lincoln Road, just north of the Stoke Parkway roundabout at Walton, on the corner of Paston Lane. The church was founded on 19 July 1959, and celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 2009. It is named for King Oswald of Bernicia (later Northumbria, 633-641) who not only killed the penultimate Welsh High King of all Britain but greatly strengthened the presence of the church in his kingdom during his lifetime.

St John the Baptist, Werrington

The Church of St John the Baptist is on Church Street in Werrington Village, on the northern outskirts of Peterborough. It is an ancient site with a name that probably derives from 'the town of the Varini', a British clan mentioned by the Roman historian Tacitus. In 1013, Werrington was one of the five Manors in Paston Parish that belonged to Peterborough Abbey. In 1086 Werrington was the only one of the surrounding hamlets to be mentioned in Domesday Book.

St John the Baptist, Werrington

At this time, in 1086, Werrington appears to have been more important than the neighbouring village of Paston. The old bells seem to have been cast before 1300, but were removed in 1930 and replaced by the two small bells that now sit above the nave roof. The east window dates to 1330, the porch to 1668, and the west wall repairs to 1680. It seems that the churchyard here was only used from 1851, with burials before that taking place in Paston.

Emmanuel Church, Werrington

Emmanuel Church is a mission church for St John the Baptist and is located at the northern end of Werrington, all of which was developed in the last thirty-or-so years of the twentieth century. The church's home is on Twelvetree Avenue, where it forms part of a very modern complex of buildings that also includes William Law Church of England Primary School. The complex was constructed during the 1980s, and the church serves as the school's hall during the week.

All photos on this page contributed by M Kessler.

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