Remains of St Peter's Church, 460m south of Church Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019881

Date first listed: 25-Jun-2001


Ordnance survey map of Remains of St Peter's Church, 460m south of Church Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Essex

District: Tendring (District Authority)

Parish: Alresford

National Grid Reference: TM 06485 20665


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

A parish church is a building, usually of roughly rectangular outline and containing a range of furnishings and fittings appropriate to its use for Christian worship by a secular community, whose members gather in it on Sundays and on the occasion of religious festivals. Children are initiated into the Christian religion at the church's font and the dead are buried in its churchyard. Parish churches were designed for congregational worship and are generally divided into two main parts: the nave, which provides accommodation for the laity, and the chancel, which is the main domain of the priest and contains the principal altar. Either or both parts are sometimes provided with aisles, giving additional accommodation or spaces for additional altars. Most parish churches also possess towers, generally at the west end, but central towers at the crossing of nave and chancel are not uncommon and some churches have a free-standing or irregularly sited tower. Many parish churches also possess transepts at the crossing of chancel and nave, and south or north porches are also common. The main periods of parish church foundation were in the 10th to 11th and 19th centuries. Most medieval churches were rebuilt and modified on a number of occasions and hence the visible fabric of the church will be of several different dates, with in some cases little fabric of the first church being still easily visible. Parish churches are found throughout England. Their distribution reflects the density of population at the time they were founded. In regions of dispersed settlement parishes were often large and churches less numerous. The densest clusters of parish churches were found in thriving medieval towns. A survey of 1625 reported the existence of nearly 9000 parish churches in England. New churches built in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries increased numbers to around 18,000 of which 17,000 remain in ecclesiastical use. Parish churches have always been major features of the landscape and a major focus of life for their parishioners. They provide important insights into medieval and later population levels or economic cycles, religious activity, artistic endeavour and technical achievement. A significant number of surviving examples are identified to be nationally important.

Despite the damage caused by fire and collapse, the surviving fabric of St Peter's Church graphically illustrates the structure's development from a simple 12th century building into a large parish church of the 13th and 14th centuries, and then into a more elaborate structure during the Victorian period. The removal of the plaster has aided the identification of building phases, particularly from the earliest period. Visible architectural details such as the 12th century circular window (partly turned in reused Roman brick) and the round-headed arch of the original south door are of particular interest.

Elements of the 12th to 14th century church no longer extant will survive below ground; they will contain archaeological information relating to the sequence of rebuilds and environmental evidence for the landscape in which they were constructed. The surrounding graveyard will also contain further archaeological evidence relating to the history of the church.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the standing and buried remains of the parish church of St Peter and part of its surrounding churchyard. The remains of the church are a Listed Building Grade II. It is situated in a now isolated position to the south of the present village of Alresford on the eastern bank of the Colne estuary, overlooking Alresford creek.

St Peter's was originally a simple two celled church comprising a nave and a chancel, or apse, characteristic of construction in the 12th century. Parts of this early church survive, evident in the use of coursed Kentish ragstone, flint rubble and reused Roman brick and tile in the western and northern walls of the nave. The church was enlarged in the 13th century with the elongation of the nave and the addition of a larger chancel. Most of the work of this period was subsequently demolished, however, and evidence of it now survives only in the north walls of the nave and chancel. An inscription (no longer in the church) to a benefactor, Anfrid de Staunton, recorded that the church was rebuilt in the early 14th century, and this is clearly evident in the standing fabric. The nave and chancel were further enlarged and buttressed. Both were provided with new windows, and new doorways were built into the north and south walls of the chancel. The church remained substantially unaltered from this period until the 19th century, and the 14th century fabric and architecture still dominates the structure.

The Victorian period saw another major rebuild, adding a south aisle (reusing masonry taken from the demolition of the 14th century south nave wall) and a porch on the northern wall. The recessed west window also dates from this period, as do the north and south chancel doors (inserted in the 14th century openings), the altar and surviving internal tile flooring.

The church has been a ruin since a fire in 1971 caused the collapse of the roof and belfry and the removal of much of the internal plaster.

The scheduling includes the core of the medieval graveyard nearest the church, but excludes most of the associated cemetery to the south and west which remains in use as a place of burial and remembrance.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 32440

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Garwood, A, The Church of St Peter, Alresford, Essex: Building Recording, (1997)
Morant, P, History of Essex, (1768)
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Essex, (1954), p53
Powell, W R, The Victoria History of the County of Essex, (1963), p38
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, , An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, (1922)
Laver, H, 'Laver Diary' in Laver Diary: 8th July, (1922)
Rodwell, WJ, 'CBA Research Report No.19' in Historic Churches a wasting asset, (1977), p64
Ordnance Survey, Ordnance Survey Card TM02SE04, (1977)
Tendring, DOE, List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, (1987)
Tyler, S, MPP Film , (2000)

End of official listing