St Peter

In a tiny hamlet right on the Welsh border, is a very special church, black and white both inside and out, and wonderfully picturesque and rustic looking.

About this church

There has been a place of Christian worship in Melverley for about a 1000 years. In 1141 Ordericus Vitalis mentions a ‘wooden chapel on the banks of the river above Shrewsbury’. In 1401 this church was burnt by the Welsh chieftain Owain Glyndwr. It was rebuilt in 1406 from local oak. The church was built and in use by 1406, only five years after the burning of the old church by Owain Glyndwr.

This was a remarkable achievement and work must have started immediately after the fire. With the exception of the lower two thirds of the east wall behind the altar, the structure you see today is substantially as it was built. Melverley is a rare example of early British churches constructed of timber, wattle and daub.

The interior is divided into three by oak frames: one supports a gallery while the other serves as a chancel screen.
The white sections are narrower than the timbers. This is a sign of an early timber construction. The entire structure is pegged together throughout, not one nail being used, and the timber is local Melverley oak.

Enter the church through a porch and small vestibule, created by the erection of a wooden screen in 1588. The altar is an early Jacobean one, around which the people of Melverley gathered to celebrate the Holy Communion nearly 400 years ago, and continue to do so today.

The pulpit is also Jacobean, with interesting carving. The lectern holds a chain Bible dating from 1727. Bibles were chained in those days because, as reading became more universal, there was a danger the Bible might be borrowed and not returned. The font is almost certainly Saxon, a survival from the original pre 1401 church. Baptisms have been taking place at this font for 1000 years. The font cover dates from 1718. The pews date from the early 1700s, but with some copies added later.

A narrow turning staircase is used to reach the gallery. The gallery is sloping as the result of the way in which the massive piece of oak settled when originally built. Two yew trees in the churchyard are estimated to be between 380 and 450 years old. A third has been planted in the new churchyard as part of the Millennium Commemorations. This is a cutting from the Old Enton Yews in Surrey, which are estimated to be 2000 years old.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Fascinating churchyard

Visitors information

  • Level access to the main areas
  • On street parking at church
  • Parking within 250m
  • Accessible toilets nearby
  • Dog friendly
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome
  • Space to secure your bike

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