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Tower and Town, April 2017

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St Peter’s And What It Is Today

At the far western end of the High Street stands the imposing St Peterís church, its tower dominating the skyline. Traffic zooms past the churchís boundary, imposingly close to the edifice itself, and it is easy to see how the increasing volumes of traffic have threatened this important historic building. We wanted to find out more of the history and significance of St Peterís.

St Peters

The Roundabout
The roundabout was planned originally in 1972 to reduce traffic congestion on the High Street. The parish was unable to support two churches and so decided to make St Peterís redundant as St Mary's Church was larger and in a better state of repair. It seemed by 1974 that the church would be demolished. Yet the mayor at the time, Alderman Jake Seamer, wanted to find an alternative way to keep the church running. Four years later, a charitable trust was established. Its role was to preserve the church and ensure its continued use by the Marlborough community. Today, considerable fundraising along with volunteer work has allowed the church to remain open and be converted into a tearoom and shop. The church also secured National Lottery funding and the help of the English Heritage Site charity.

Inside the Church
The tearoom and the arts and crafts shop have been open since 1978. It has been very popular among College students and the local community. It is entirely run on a volunteer basis. The tearoom is a wonderful establishment, selling delicious sweet treats and making fantastic hot drinks. The craft shop is an excellent outlet, selling locally handcrafted gifts. Also inside the church is the War Memorial Chapel. The chapel was opened in 1920 as a memorial to the members of the parish who lost their lives in the Great War. The wooden panelling is inscribed with all the names of the people who gave their lives for King and Country. Next in the church are the stained glass windows. Thomas Wyatt installed them in 1863 as part of the restoration. The stained glass windows are beautifully designed, showing the shepherds in the manger and the crucifixion of Christ.

The Tower
The tower is a remarkable structure which offers unprecedented views across the town and into the surrounding countryside. Built in 1500 in the perpendicular style it stands tall over the High Street. It takes 139 steps to reach the top of the tower.

There is a small museum now in the ringing chamber. Along with the museum the ringing chamber still possesses an old ringing mechanism in working condition. There is a belfry, which originally housed eight bells, and now houses the beautiful Sanctus Bell that dates from 1741.

We decided to write about the church because we visited it last year. We felt that it was a very special experience, especially seeing the view from the bell tower and being able to see the ringing chamber. We also wanted to highlight that the church is in need of more support from the local community. St Peter's church is a fantastic place, which has stood looking down the high street for more than nine hundred years. As residents here in Marlborough we think that it would be a great shame to lose the church Ė please do what you can to support it and secure its future.

Hector Perry and Harry Keena

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