The church of St Augustine is to be found tucked away behind some trees at the side of the A605, right on the outskirts of Peterborough city centre. Neighbours include several fast food outlets and a shop across the road that I couldn;t possibly go in to detail about on here! Peterborough United Football Club can be found a short distance to the east and a beautiful art deco style building opposite hosts the local Baptist church.
This is a difficult church to photograph, possibly the most challenging to be found within the catchment area of this site. As mentioned already, trees obscure the north of the church and attempts to photograph from the south are hindered by a large pipe running down the centre of the tower, this possibly being the single ugliest thing to be found on any church in this area. There is a very poor view from the east and there are buildings very close on the west. So, what you see above are, believe it or not, the best that I could get!
There was a church mentioned here at the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086. The oldest part of the present structure is a very small window on the west side of the west tower. This dates from before 1066 and is pictured at the bottom right of the page. The church was almost completely re-built in 1844 but before that it is believed that the church had a 14th century chancel with a pre 1066 tower and 12th century bellfry.
According to the National Church Bell Database, there is a ring of six bells here, all by Gillett and Johnstone. This was not the case when Revd Sweeting was taking his mid Victorian look at the churches in the area. There were only three bells here at that time with one being dated 1608, inscribed "OMNIA FIANT AD GLORIEM DEI", which translates as "Let all things be done for the glory of God". It was suggested that this bell might have been cast by Holfield of Nottingham.
The second bell was dated 1636 and was ascibed to the Stamford Bellfoundry by Owen, in his 1899 study of the church bells of Huntingdon. This bell has the name Johannes Clement, the Rector of the day, inscribed on it along with churchwarden Petrvs Chvne. The final bell of the three was dated 1749 and was cast by Eayre of St Neots.
Going back briefly to Revd Sweeting's notes on St Augustine it appears as if the old tower was very unsafe prior to the re-build of 1844. It couldn't have been that unsteady though as, according to Sweeting, it took dynamite to finally topple the tower!
In 1883 the aisles were re=built and widened, a north porch was built and a south porch demolished. In 1896 the chancel was enlarged.
The church is beautiful inside with stained glass windows on all four sides, with just a solitary window on the south side containing clear glass. As you would expect this means a lack of light coming in to the church, even on a gloriously sunny Sunday morning such as this. The lighting on inside the church really made the whole place look warm and inviting. It was lovely to be here! Not a great deal to be found of any great age here but the font dates from the 13th century. Stone heads line north and south bays and the piers on thesouth aisle are octagonal, dating from the 14th century.
Outside is a great contrast. To the north, the traffic rushes by on its way in to Peterborough whilst on the south side it is remarkably peaceful. On the north side the church grounds are entered through a lychgate which commemorates the dead from World War One. interestingly, the dates on this are 1914 until 1919, not 1918. I am assuming that the dates include any person listed who died from their wounds that following year. Close to the north porch is a large statue of Jesus crucified and close to that is what appears to be the base of a cross.
There is a very fine example of a deaths head stone to be found amongst the graves on the south side, a human skull and hourglass, both used to denote the passage of time and the mortality of Man, sitting either side of a pair of cherubs. These are not rare by any means but they are few and far between in the Peterborough area and this is a lovely example. The script on the stone is unreadable but I suspect that this may date from no later than the mid 18th century.
As with the other churches in the area, St Augustine is normally kept shut to visitors. It was good to worship here one Sunday morning ine arly December 2011. I have to admit that I was really pleasantly surprised when I went inside . This is a lovely church, warm and welcoming, and if you fall lucky, and get the chance to see inside, it will be well worth making the effort.