The existence of the church in Minsterworth dates back to medieval times, a list of incumbents displayed in the church going back as far as 1261. The present parish church of St Peter’s however was built towards the end of the 19th century, replacing the medieval building whose fabric had badly deteriorated not least from the effects of flooding. It is recorded that in 1770 flood waters in the church resulted in the parish chest and all its contents being saturated and later, in 1852, the parish clerk sailed up the nave in a boat!
The church, a Grade II* listed building, standing just yards from the river bank, was designed by the well-known church architect Henry Woodyer, who was also responsible for the design of nearby Highnam church (although the two churches are quite different in character). Little of the old church is now in evidence but the new church retains features from its predecessor such as the 15th century stone font, a finely carved Jacobean pulpit and a panel of ancient embroidery reputedly associated with Queen Catherine of Aragon. Also preserved in the church are a number of memorials to leading Minsterworth families of the 18th and 19th centuries and the churchyard has old gravestones and several fine table-top tombs also from those times.
The church’s dedication to St Peter has not always been so. In the 15th century it was described as the church of St George and around 1790 the Gloucestershire historian Ralph Bigland referred to it as being dedicated to St Mary.
Not from the old church, but of special interest, are four beautifully carved stone label-stops above the nave capitals representing various aspects of nature’s bounteousness in the locality: grapes, apples, fishes caught in a net and flowers. Among more recent memorial stones in the churchyard is one commemorating Minsterworth’s own World War I poet F W Harvey. The tower contains a fine set of bells regularly used by visiting bellringers. St Peter’s has a musical tradition and its ladies’ choir regularly accompanies worship at the church as well as some benefice services.
St Peter’s is a well cared-for, attractive and welcoming building which is kept open for visitors daily during daylight hours.
(GPO and Ordinance Survey reference GL2 8JJ / OS ref 774170)