St. Peter’s is a simple sandstone church, oringally dating from the late 12th century, but with later additions and some traces of a still earlier church. Looking out acrss the Severn valley, it is situated on a rise above the village and is adjacent to Arley Arboretum and the site of the former Arley Caster. For many vistors to Arley it is a place of great beauty and one for tranquil reflection.
The building bears testimony to the history of the area since medieval times. The oldest monument is the 13th century ‘Crusader’, believed to be Sir Walter de Bohum, the first husband of Isolda de Mortimer.
After 150 years in the possession of the Mortimer family Arley passed, in the 15th century, into the ownership of the Lytteltons, a family more usually associated with Hagley. They lived primarily at Arley for the 100 years before the building of the present Hagley Hall in the 1750s. The Lyttelton famliy monuments in St Peter’s relate to this period in their family history.
Lucy Lyttelton married Arthur anneslet, Viscount Valentia (later Earl Mountnorris) in 1763 and the estate was bequeathed to their son George in 1779. Again there are monuments to this family, this time both within the church and outside, in the magnificence of the trees of Arley Arboretum, first planted by Viscount Valentia in the early 19th century.
The later development of the church was shaped by the Woodward family, who owned Arley from 1852 to 1959. They rebuilt the chancel, re-ordered the interior and introduced a heating system. It was at this time that the stained glass was installed, the chancel window being by Kempe. Their work recognised the need for the church to be not just a monument to the past but a place of worship to meet the needs of the present.
Similar thoughts were in the mind of the present congregation when the recent amenities addition was erected in 2005.
The church is open during daylight hours and guidance notes are available.
Why not link a visit to St Peter’s with one to the Arboretum or a trip on the Severn Valley Railway – or both!