St Peter’s Church stands in the middle of the market town of Oundle. There has been a church in this town since at least 709, when history tells us that a Saxon saint called Wilfrid died at his church in Oundle. Since then the building has changed and adapted to the needs of every generation. The highest spire in Northamptonshire (210’) reminds people that we are here, while the glass doors welcome you to a light and flexible space that combines historical splendour with the needs of our community. As you enter through the church porch there is a hidden room above you. In that room William Laxton was educated nearly 500 years ago. He moved to London, became Lord Mayor and left his money to found Oundle School. The pictures in the porch tell you a little bit about the life of St Peter’s today. It’s a great place to be.
Walk in to church and take a look around: You’ll see the brass eagle lectern that is around 500 years old. When Cromwell’s troops came to town they made it clear that, as Puritans, they didn’t approve of carved images. They threw the lectern into the River Nene. There it stayed until the river was dredged in the 19th century. The pulpit is a similar age to the lectern and was restored to its original colours in the 1960s. Many layers of black paint were painstakingly removed to reveal traces of its original splendour. The gold stars on blue background are a symbol of St Wilfrid – the founder of the church. As you continue to wander around the building you will notice the many carved heads that stare down at you from the ceiling and the walls. The most recent of these depict a former Vicar and a former Bishop of Peterborough – complete with glasses and mitre! Look at the picture of the Last Supper behind the communion table: Judas is easy to spot. He wears a scowl but no halo! And on his bag is the number 30 – reminding us that he betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Don’t forget to study the list of plague victims or read the many interesting memorials: one of them is in memory of a man who left “£120 a year for ever to this poor Vicarage". Whatever happened to that? And above the Georgian font is a beautiful banner made for the church by a student at Prince William School in the town. It depicts Jesus being baptised in the River Nene! There’s a lot to see. Take a Guide Book from the back of church and spend a while enjoying the warmth and peace of this space.