St Peter's Plemstall
St Peter's is an ancient Christian site where worship has been offered to God since at least the 7th century. At that time the tidewaters of the Mersey flowed up to and surrounded this isolated spot, once known as the Isle of Chester.
A legend, perhaps of the 5th or 6th century, tells of a shipwrecked fisherman who, on finding refuge here, built a church as an act of thanksgiving, dedicating it to St Peter the fisherman.
Nowadays, although the river has retreated from this expanse of low-lying land, the church still occupies an isolated position at the end of a long, secluded country lane.
The first church was probably built in the 7th century, but nothing is known of that building. The present church dates from 1200, although it is almost certain that there was a substantial rebuilding in the first half of the 15th century, and again in the reign of Henry VII (1485-1509).
The style of the church is mainly simple Perpendicular, which prevailed from the mid-14th to the 16th centuries and is characterised by strong vertical lines.
The name Plemstall, or Plegmundstall, derives from “the habitation of Plegmund”. During the 9th century, when native Britons were struggling against the invading Danes, many religious houses were destroyed. Plegmund, a notable scholar who contributed to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, took refuge on the Isle of Chester where he ministered to the people.
In recognition of his talents he was called from the simple way of life to become Alfred’s tutor and assist him in the consolidation of his kingdom. After holding various high offices he was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in 890. When Alfred died in 900, Plegmund crowned the king’s son, known as Edward the Elder, whom he continued to serve until his own death in 914. Plegmund was buried in Canterbury Cathedral.
In more recent times the Revd J H Toogood (Rector 1907-1945) has left his mark on the building through his great skill as a wood carver. A 15th century screen separates the chancel from the nave and the Barnston chapel. The figures, the rood and the enrichments on the top are the work of the Revd Toogood (see picture above). He also made the altar, the reredos, the box pews, the choir stalls, the sanctuary panelling, the lectern, the war memorial, the baptistry screen and the font cover (see picture above).
There is only a little of the original coloured glass remaining in the windows, most having been lost at the time of the Reformation. In the baptistry is an old churchwarden’s pew, over 7 feet high, dated 1697. The triple decker pulpit (pictured above)is dated 1722, and has a (broken) hour glass to the side.
In 2002 an extension was built on the north side, a toilet installed, and full disabled access provided. In 2003 the Charles Whiteley organ was fully restored.