A brief history
From left to right
can be seen the chancel roof, the St James' Room (behind the tree trunk) the north
transept (the gable end) and the exterior wall of the north aisle with its castellated
top. Above this can just be seen the upper part of the north clerestory.
The first parish church of St Peter stood in the French borough which grew up after
the Norman invasion by the side of the existing Anglo-Danish settlement of Nottingham.
William Peverel, one of the Conqueror's followers and castellan of Nottingham, gave the
church along with St Mary's and St Nicholas as part of the endowment of the Cluniac
Priory of Lenton, which he founded between 1109 and 1114.
During the wars in King Stephen's time, the Earl of Gloucester captured the town in
1140 in the name of the Empress Matilda. The citizens who supported Stephen were put to
the sword and their houses set on fire - terrified, they ran to the churches where they
were massacred and their sanctuaries were burnt over them. It is said that the nave of
St Peter's ran with blood at this time. This must be the reason that nothing remains of the
original building, except for some signs of Norman work at the east end of the south nave
The earliest part of the existing church is the south arcade, said to date from 1180,
which must have formed part of the rebuilt structure. The roof line of this second church
can be seen on the wall of the tower which was completed in 1340 in the Decorated style.
The north arcade of the nave and the original clerestories in the Perpendicular style must
have been added between this time and the construction of the nave and south aisle roof
just before 1500.
During the Civil War the town and castle were held for Parliament. Cavaliers from
Newark broke into the town twice. On the second occasion, in January 1644, the Royalists
seized St Peter's and occupied it. In the process of their being cannoned out of the
church by the Castle garrison, considerable damage was done. The chancel was destroyed and
the north clerestory extensively damaged. Many holes were blown in the walls, both inside
At this time St Nicholas' Church was demolished by the Roundheads as its tower had
been used by the Royalists as a vantage point for cannon to fire into the Castle. The
congregation was received into St Peter's for a number of years, and a gallery was
incorporated in the north aisle in 1670 to hold them.
The chancel was rebuilt in 1670 in Restoration style. Evidence of war damage repairs
can be seen with small areas of brickwork in the wall of the north aisle. An extensive
refurbishment in 1719 re-positioned the gallery in the north aisle, and the north
clerestory was rebuilt in 1799. The original south porch was removed in 1765 and the
Rector's Vestry was built in 1814, the year before Waterloo. A new chancel and north
transept were built in 1876-77, and the St James' Room completed the present church when
it was added in 1936 on the occasion of the living of St James' Church, Standard Hill,
being combined with St Peter's.