ST. PETER AND ST. PAUL CHURCH
The Church, which is in the centre of the Conservation Area, has an important part in the history of the village. We know that the village existed before the entry in the Domesday Book of 1086 where the Lord of Merdeford was Hugh Burdet. In 1219, Sir Henry de Alneto, the Lord of the Manor, appointed the first Rector, Robert de Atteneston.
It would appear that it was Sir Henry who initiated the building of our Church, although it was probably built on the site of an earlier church. He also began the association with the Priory at Canons Ashby where he gave money for the support of a monk to pray for his soul. The links with the Priory continued until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Indeed, convalescing monks came to stay in dormitories alongside the Church, where the “Tryst House” is now situated, and worshipped here.
The most distinctive external feature of the Church is the rare saddle-back roof on the three-stage west tower. The west door has sunk quadrant moulded jambs and the tower windows are also worthy of attention. Like many old churches, there is a blocked north door - perhaps due to the old superstition that this was the point of entry for the devil! The south porch was built in 1883 as a memorial to Elizabeth Goff and it protects the original south door. Carved on the wall on the south side of the building, there are two mediaeval “mass-tellers” which acted rather like small sundials ensuring that people could be punctual for services. Nearby is the blocked lepers’ window.
Inside the Church, the 13th century south aisle has a three-bay arcade with double chamfered arches and octagonal piers. The main window here, which is a memorial to Arthur William Grant 1878, is three-light decorated with a hood mould and ogee mould surround. There is also a simple ogee arched piscine. The ornately carved Victorian font is positioned by the south door “to allow the devil to escape”
In the nave, the windows are of simple Early English design. There is also a four-window clerestory. At the Dissolution, rood screens were removed and a board dedicated to the Monarch was substituted. The hatchment type board was painted in 1813 and clearly replaced an earlier one. It was found in the tower in the 1960s, restored and re-hung.
In the Chancel, there is a three-light window with hood mould. The piscine has a crocketed nodding ogee arched head and was used particularly when the Church was Catholic and is still in use today.
The rectangular brass tablet which is engraved: “Of your charity pray for the soul of John Wright who died 23rd April, 1544” possibly came from a tomb on the floor of the Church and will shortly be displayed in the Chancel. There is a memorial to Samson White, who was a former Rector, and his family. The organ chamber was created in 1899 from the former north aisle chapel and it has a pair of one-light cusped windows, which can be seen from outside.
In the peaceful churchyard, there is a War Memorial and, amongst the trees, six copper beeches planted in 1922 to commemorate those men from the village who died in the First World War.
We hope that you will be able to enjoy time spent here and that you take pleasure in our Grade II* listed Church.