St. Peter's Church, Sandwich
St Peter’s Church, Sandwich is a magnificent Grade I listed church in the heart of the Sandwich Walled Town. One of the town’s three surviving mediaeval churches, it is believed to have been established in the 11th century. While it is thought that large-scale construction concluded for the most part by the 15th century, the most significant impact to the current structure occurred in October 1661 when the upper part of the tower and steeple collapsed, destroying the south aisle. The tower was rebuilt with the addition of the present cupola, but the south aisle was never reconstructed. Despite this, the church enjoys landmark status; its iconic onion dome is the most easily recognised building on the Sandwich skyline, and its fabric provides physical evidence of the town’s historical evolution and the influence of the foreign communities it embraced.
St Peter’s Church was vested in the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) in October 1974 and remains consecrated, though services are only held occasionally. The Church currently experiences visitor numbers in excess of 50,000 per annum, ranking in the top ten of the entire CCT estate in visitation and first in its South East region. A close partnership between the CCT and the Friends of St Peter’s has allowed the church to also function as an arts centre and host a series of events throughout the year, often serving as a venue for community literary, music and arts festivals.
In order to strengthen its tourism role and offer, the CCT appointed Malcolm Fryer Architects (MFA) to prepare proposals that seek to enhance visitor experience and develop the church’s commercial programme. The proposals have included the creation of a substantial timber access stair to a viewing platform on the tower, taking advantage of unrestricted views over Sandwich and the English Channel. The provision of new WCs within the south aisle garden and a general improvement of the welcome facilities will serve to further enhance the visitor experience and allow for a more diverse range of uses.
The proposals have received statutory support and are due to commence on site in January 2015.
Project Profile available for print and download here.