Old Woking: St Peter’s Tower

As the listing states, this appears to have been built in two stages, a 15th century date being given for the whole. Pevsner suggests 13th century for the base and 15th century for the sarsen top. The church guide has 13th century for the base but around 1340 for the top!

Norman West window. Image: Phillip Arnold

Norman West window. Image: Phillip Arnold

The inside of the tower has four levels the ground floor lobby, the ringing chamber, the clock chamber and above this, the bell chamber. The clock chamber is at the level of the sarsen exterior and has a series of put-logs on all four walls presumably used in the construction of the tower. There are narrow windows on three of the sides with the remains of the old Norman west window on the fourth side. The top of the chamber is made up of heavy beams supporting the bells in the chamber above.

Blocked up window on North aspect. Image: Phillip Arnold

Blocked up window on North aspect. Image: Phillip Arnold

The base of the tower accommodates the ground floor lobby and the ringing chamber. The outside has been much repaired as can be seen from the variety of materials used for these repairs. Careful inspection of the north and south aspects of the base reveals a blocked up window on each aspect. Although it is difficult to tell, these windows appear to have been of some size.

The sarsen stone used for the top of the tower would appear to be similar to that used for the construction of the Palace vault and may well be of the same date and source. However, this needs to be established. There would appear to be no reason for the tower having been built in two stages nor is it certain that the bells have always been hung in their present position.

For more information about Old Woking and St Peter’s Church visit www.oldwoking.org.

Contributor:Phillip Arnold

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