Illustrated tour part 5 - churchyard and St. Peter's Centre
The churchyard was closed for burial in 1848 and a large slice on the north
side was carved off to enable St Peter's Gate to be doubled in width. In 1965 about
twenty feet were sacrificed at the west end to widen St Peter's Square, and Marks &
Spencer's store was extended northwards over St Peter's Church Side which had run along
the south side of the churchyard. At that time the store extension was covered by a piazza
at the same level as the churchyard, but this secluded area became a wilderness and prone
to vandalism. With the further extension of the store over the piazza and the construction
of the St Peter's Centre in 1997-98, the churchyard has become a garden, overlooked (from
inside the store) and with gates locked at night. In recent years the churchyard has been
reopened for the interment of cremated remains.
The St Peter's Centre
Marks and Spencer approached
St Peter's in 1993 concerning their plans for extension and possible service to the church,
at a time when we were considering how the church might adapt to suit the needs of the
city, particularly in providing a listening ear. This was indeed providential. The Centre,
on which the church has been granted a 999 year lease (unusual in the commercial world),
consists of a meeting room and office accommodation on the first floor, and catering
facilities and a coffee room / larger meeting room on the ground floor. These fine new
facilities are now being used to extend the Church's ministry to those who use the City
The coffee room
Lunches have been
provided on weekdays in the St James Room of the church since 1981 when a small kitchen
was built in the space under the organ. This service has proved very popular; and the new
accommodation now offers more space, easier access for the public in St Peter's
and a fine view of the church garden.
Read about the dedication of the
St Peter's Centre.
The living church
In his guide, Allan Derry
concludes "it would be wrong to leave you with the impression that the Church of God
is made of bricks and mortar. St Peter's is a living community of people who are drawn
together from all walks of life by their desire to pattern their way of living on the life
of Jesus of Nazareth. We believe that God has called us, accepted us as we are, forgiven
us and strengthened us. Day by day, week by week, for over nine hundred years, people have
come to this building to hear the words of the Gospel, to share their moments of joy and
sorrow, and to dedicate their lives afresh to God; in the hope and the belief that they
might be used by Him in the extension of His Kingdom of Peace and Righteousness in this
The text is adapted from the Church Guide written by the late Allan Derry.
You may also be interested in reading David Marshall's article on the history of the Church building.
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