There has been a church at Wapley since the twelfth century, but the main fabric of the present church dates from the thirteenth century. This simple but attractive country church has a nave, chapel and tower with a peal of bells that were recast as a project for the Millennium.
This old postcard of the church shows the box tombs that have now been removed.
Sir John Codrington’s tomb is between the High Altar (left) and the Chapel. The tomb itself is empty, as discovered by local antiquarians in Victorian times. However it was not unusual to have a “show tomb” when the actual body is buried somewhere else. There is a suggestion that there was a “JC” gravestone in the nave at one time, but this was all dug out when the tower was stabilised (late 1800s?). There is a “tump” in the churchyard that contains the excavated material, so perhaps we should call this “Sir John’s Tump”?
The inscription above the tomb is a little mysterious, as it implies that Sir John lived to the amazing age of 111:
“Here lies Johannes Codry’ton knight, who died on the ninth day of the month of November in the year of our Lord 1475, having the age on the day that he died of 111 years, 5 months 13 days, may God bless his soul. Amen”
It is possible that the stonemason got his Roman numerals mixed up – he carved CXI (=111) but possibly he meant XCI (=91) or similar.
The church has many other interesting features such as some fragments of medieval stained glass.
These drawings of St Peter’s Church and the Codrington Tomb (courtesy of Neil Codrington in Australia) were made by the celebrated engraver Samuel Lysons in 1792. Could these be the oldest pictures of the church?