St Peter's Church, Bournemouth, by G. E. Street: Part II

Choir and Sanctuary

The sanctuary from the choir.

St Peter's, Hinton Road, Bournemouth is a Grade I listed Victorian church designed mainly by G. Street, with a lengthy building history. By the time the east end of the church was built, chancels were apt to be decorated in a more colourful way: Andrew Saint writes, "Nothing is more familiar than the the mid-Victorian church that only gradually gets its accumulation of chancel decoration and stained glass" (9). St Peter's chancel dates to 1863-4. Its two-bay choir has (to quote from the listing text) "elaborate dogtooth and foliage-carved arches on foliage capitals, with clustered shafts of pink marble and stone, sculptured scenes by [Thomas] Earp in cusped vesica panels in spandrels, pointed boarded wagon roof with painted patterning by Booley [Bodley] and Garner, 1891." Just visible above are the choir stalls of 1864 with their poppyheads, designed by Street himself, and executed by James Leaver — a Maidenhead blacksmith whom Street trusted, whose "woodwork, such as Altars, choir-stalls, pulpits, screens and pews, is always first-rate" ("George Edmund Street"). Also by Street (and made by Leaver again), are the fine parclose screens described in the listing text as being "of openwork iron on twisted brass columns." The dramatic pavement, however, was designed by Sir John Ninian Comper in 1915 (listing text).

Left: One of Thomas Earp's sculptured reliefs in oval surrounds, mentioned above — the crucifixion. Right: Closer view of the reredos.

The reredos, designed by Street, was executed by James Redfern. It features Christ in majesty surrounded by angels, under heavy and intricately carved Gothic canopies, with green and purple twisted marble columns at each end. Beyond those columns are angel mosaics (only seen in the top picture) installed in 1899 by Powell. These are based on earlier ones by Edward Burne-Jones, which unfortunately wore badly (the listing text says they disintegrated).

The rich painted decoration in the sanctuary also dates from 1899, and was designed by Sir Arthur Blomfield, and, like the mosaic work here, executed by Powell. The east window, designed by Street, was earlier — 1866. This was carried out by Clayton and Bell.

Left: Looking into the sanctuary from the south aisle, through a double arcade of columns, twisted pink alabaster alternating with black marble. Right: Looking into the Keble Chapel, which is set aside for silent prayer and mediation. The south transept screen to the chapel, of 1906, was by yet another fine craftsman, Sir T. J. Jackson (1848-1923), who also designed the chapel's candlesticks and altar cross.

Keble Chapel

Left: The altar and reredos. Right: Frescos illustrating the texts, "Behold, the Lamb of God" and "Jesus saith unto him [Peter], Feed my sheep." an

The glorious Keble Chapel at St Peter's is dedicated to the memory of John Keble, the Anglican priest, theologian and poet who inspired the Oxford Movement. Keble worshipped in the church for several months after coming to Bournemouth for the sake of his wife's health. As Simon Jenkins says, this sanctuary is, "[i]f anything, richer even than the chancel" (174). Apart from Heaton, Butler and Bayne's frescos (1908), there are also six opus sectile panels, listed in Powell's order book at 7961/91 and ordered in 1898 — interestingly,the design of one of these, a panel of three musician angels, can be found elsewhere — for example, in the West Chapel of Golder's Green Crematorium (Powell's order book 4048/243, in 1915). Apparently, designs for such panels, as for stained glass windows, could be reused.

Font and Pulpit

Left to right: (a) The font. (b) The pulpit. (c) Closer view of the angel on the pulpit.

The font and pulpit were both designed by Street and carved by Earp. The font of 1855, in the south-west transept, is described in the listing text as "octagonal with grey marble inlay in trefoil panels, and the pulpit as "circular, pink marble and alabaster with marble-columned trefoil-headed arcaded over frieze of inlaid panels, on short marble columns, tall angel supporting desk." The pulpit was shown at the Great International Exhibition of 1862: "No finer work ever left Mr Street's hands, no better carving ever left Mr Earp's," enthused the Building News (qtd. by Blandford 13, referenced in Cynthia Gamblin's penultimate paragraph in "Epilogues").

Besides John Keble, another well-known figure is associated with St Peter's: Mary Shelley was laid to rest in its churchyard, with her parents — reputedly, as Jenkins mentions, with her husband's heart beside her (174).

Related Material

You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit John Salmon and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. [Click on the images to enlarge them and see the details.]


"About Us" St Peter's, Bournemouth. Web. 29 April 2020.

Blachford, John. St Peter's, Bournemouth. Norwich: Jarrold, 2006.

Butler, Perry. "Keble, John (1792–1866), Church of England clergyman and poet." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Web. 1 May. 2020.

"Church of St Peter." Historic England. Web. 29 April 2020.

Eberhard, Robert. "Stained Glass Windows at St Peter, Bournemouth" (recorded by Brian Woodruffe). Church Stained Glass Windows. Web. 30 April 2020.

"George Edmund Street" (a short guide published by the Victorian Society in 2017 and hosted online by All Saints, Boynehill). Web. 30 April 2020.

James Powell (the order book can be downloaded from here).

Jenkins, Simon. England's Thousand Best Churches. Rev. ed. London: Penguin, 2009.

Mate, Charles Henry. Bournemouth: 1810-1910. The History of a Modern Health and Pleasure Resort. Bournemouth: Messrs W. Mate & Sons, 1910. Internet Archive. Contributed by Cornell University Library. Web. 30 April 2020.

Pevsner, Nikolaus. The Buildings of England: Dorset. London: Penguin, 1972.

Last modified 14 May 2020