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The Story of Christianity in Maidenhead

c 200

Christians from Rome had already brought the word of God to Southern Britain


Edict of Milan issued by the co-emperors, Constantine and Licinius called Christianity "our first and principal concern" and announced a general religious tolerance. Upper rooms in villas began to be turned into special areas for Christian worship


Council of Arles - three British Bishops attended the council. Christian Churches began to be built in England.


Decline of power of Rome and the invasion of the Germanic tribes caused social disruption in England, and Christians probably met in secret. However Christianity continued to flourish in Wales, Cornwall and Ireland.


St. Augustine arrived in Kent - a reluctant missionary - sent by Pope Gregory the Great. St. Augustine converted King Ethelbert of Kent. The Christian message is carried by others throughout the land.


St. Birinus was sent by Pope Honorarius I as first bishop of Dorchester (on Thames). There is a legend that he baptised converts in a pool at Berry Hill in Taplow. Later he founded a church at Winchester. He died in 650 AD.


Cookham Church was mentioned in a charter as being attached to a monastery in existence in 726. Furze Platt continued to be part of the parish of Cookham until 1866.


St. Mary's Church was built as a "Chapel of Ease" for the Christians in the growing town of Maidenhead. The church was in the middle of the High Street near the present Bear Hotel


Other Christians built chapels in Maidenhead


St. Luke's was built for the people of north Maidenhead.


The first St. Peter's, a mission church made of corrugated iron, was licensed to serve the needs of the northern part of St. Luke's parish. This was a bold initiative as St. Luke's had only been in existence for twenty years. The population of Maidenhead was less than the population of Furze Platt today.


Plans for a permanent St. Peter's Church in Furze Platt.
August St. Luke's Magazine says "The increasing population of Furze Platt and its neighborhood makes the question of a new and enlarged church for the district become daily more pressing. The Vicar has been in touch with Mr. Shrewsbury, architect of St. Paul's Maidenhead and Littlewick churches... and some plans have been drawn up."
September The Committee resolved that "a permanent Church be erected in place of the iron one... that warm thanks be given to Mr. Gardner for his very liberal offer of the necessary land."
December The St. Luke's Committee adopted the plan by the architect for the church at an estimated cost of one thousand four hundred pounds to complete the east end of the church.


March £760 had been raised for the new church
May The Committee accepted Messrs Silver's estimate of £1429 for the building of the first part of the new church.
July 15th LAYING OF THE FOUNDATION STONE OF St. PETER'S (from St. Luke's Magazine and Maidenhead Advertiser)
"The day was splendidly fine, too hot some would say, but in spite of the heat and Henley, of hindrance and attraction and holiday a goodly company of the faithful of all classes came together, Furze Platt being well represented, and by their clergy the three Parishes of the town.
"The choir under Mr. John Absalom processed to the spot singing 'We love the place, O God'. The Vicar of St. Luke's Canon Meara, officiated at a short service. Afterwards the Hon Mrs. FitzMaurice, of Fernley, Furze Platt, ascended the platform which had been erected and the Vicar handed her a sealed bottle, containing copies of 'The Standard' (London) and 'The Maidenhead Advertiser' newspapers and also several silver and copper coins bearing the date 1897. The bottle and its contents were then placed in a cavity under the stone and Mrs. FitzMaurice proceeded with the aid of a silver trowel to spread mortar on the brickwork on which the stone was to rest. Mrs. FitzMaurice said 'In the name of Jesus Christ we place this foundation stone in the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. Amen'. She concluded by saying 'I now declare this stone to be well and truly laid.' After the Vicar had read the lesson from
Ezra 3:10 and 11, he addressed a few words to those present. The hymn 'The Church's One Foundation' and the blessing brought the service to a close.
"We only hope that the work so auspiciously begun will now go forward and prosper."
Nov 11 £2-2-3d raised at a Concert for the building fund.


April The Eastern Part of the Church was consecrated by the Bishop of Oxford. The Iron Church, which had continued to be used alongside the new building was sent to Christchurch, Hampshire


October The completed Church was dedicated by the Bishop of Oxford. The second half of the church had been built by Messrs Silver.


St. Peter's became a separate parish from St. Luke's.



The Lesson at the Church Dedication

Ezra 3:10-11 (King James' Version) And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the Lord, after the ordinance of David king of Israel.  And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.

The parish did not have a Vicar for most of the year of Centenary celebrations. There was what is called an interregnum after John Pollard's retirement. 

Vicars/Priest-in-Charge of St. Peter's Furze Platt

Vicars of St. Luke's - St. Peter's Mother Church

R W Hole 1866-74 (St. Luke's Church was consecrated on 23 August 1866)
W G Sawyer 1874-90 
Canon Meara 1890-1914
Canon C E M Fry 1914-46

Vicars of St. Peter's

1. B A Duke 1928-38
H J Waters 1938-47
Clifford G Gardner 1947-52
J H Cook 1952-68 
A K H Jones 1969-79
Frank S Ebbitt 1980-87 
John E R Pollard 1987-1997
Lee S Rayfield 1997- 2005
9.Mark Balfour 2006-

Since 1954 the Vicar has also been Chaplain to St. Mark's Hospital Church.

Other Clergy Associated with St. Peter's and St. Mark's

  • J Baghot de La Bere
  • Catherine Blundell 
  • Michael Coombes
  • Bill Dodd 
  • Des Foote
  • Nigel Sanders
  • Maurice Skinner
  • Bill Pegg

This is a leaflet that was first issued in 1987, at the time of the Centenary of the first church building on the St. Peter's site, the "Iron Church". It has been reprinted from time to time and the current version is usually available in St. Peter's Church. This version has been slightly rearranged in the interest of clarity, and references to service times etc. have been omitted.


You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church
Matthew 16 v 18

Churches are made by people, for people but above all of people. A poorly attended church can easily become redundant; it is the Church in its spiritual sense that counts. St. Peter's is still serving the Lord and the Christian community as it did in 1887. We pray that it will continue to do so into the next century.

Since 1954 the Vicar of St. Peter's has been the chaplain of St. Mark's Hospital Church - both churches being in the same parish. The churches work together in outreach to the community in North Maidenhead.


  • The Parish of Holy Trinity, Cookham
    Until 1867 Furze Platt was in the ancient parish of Cookham, which has had a church for over 1000 years. In 1270 the Hosebund family donated a "Chapel of Ease" in Maidenhead dedicated to St. Andrew and St. Mary Magdalene for the benefit of travellers. Although some services would have been held in the chapel, Maidenhead north of the Bath Road was still in Cookham parish and marriages and burials would have taken place there.
  • 1867 - St. Luke's Church
    In 1867 the growing population of Maidenhead necessitated the building of St. Luke's Church to meet the needs of the people living in North Maidenhead.
  • 1887 - The First St. Peter's Church known as The Iron Church
    Twenty years later the vicar of St. Luke's, the Revd W G Sayer, decided to have errected a mission church in Furze Platt, made of corrugated iron, capable of seating 80 people. It was licensed for worship in March 1887. The Iron Church was situated on the present church site, near to Cannon Court Road. No picture has been discovered of the building when it was in Furze Platt, but the photograph shows it after it was moved to Christchurch, Hants where it served first as a church then as a parish hall until the 1960's.
  • A Permanent St. Peter's Church is built
    In 1896 St. Luke's Parish magazine reported "The increasing population of Furze Platt and its neighbourhood makes the question of a new and enlarged church for the district become daily more pressing. The vicar has been in communication with Mr Shrewsbury, architect of St. Paul's, Maidenhead and Littlewick Churches . ...and some plans have been drawn up."
    In September the committee resolved that "a permanent Church be erected in place of the iron one... that warm thanks be given to Mr Gardner for his very liberal offer of the necessary land." Estimates for the construction of the church were sought from local firms and Messrs. Silver & Sons who had submitted a tender of £1429 were awarded the contract.
    The foundation stone of St. Peter's Church at Furze Platt was laid by Hon. Mrs Fitzmaurice of "Fernley" on 15th July 1897. The eastern end of the building, described as "early pointed style architecture, predominantly made of red brick with Bath stone and grey brick dressings" took nine months to complete.
    On 14th April 1898 the eastern part of the Church was consecrated by the Bishop of Oxford, Dr William Stubbs. On the following Sunday the church was so full for evensong that some people could not get in.
  • By October 1908 the western half of the church had been completed and was dedicated by the Bishop of Oxford, Dr Paget. Messrs. Silver also built this part of the church at a cost of £1200.
  • In 1922 the War Memorial Hall was built by Messrs. J K Cooper.
  • St. Peter's became a separate parish from St. Luke's in 1928.
  • In 1963 the central bell turret was removed. The Tower, built above the transept was paid for by Mr Edward Arundell in memory of his parents.
  • This work was followed by changes in the layout of the church grounds. The old iron reading room was removed from the south side of the church. A new entrance was made in the newly-surfaced St. Peter's Road (The original entrance was in Cannon Court Road, then the most usual route to Cookham)
  • In 1978 the Jubilee Room was built at the eastern end of the Church (to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee).
  • The last addition was the Ebbitt Room built in 1986 to serve as an office and meeting room.


  • The west and clerestory windows were made at William Morris's factory and the west window has a typical Art Nouveau lily pattern.
  • The Bell given by Mr Western was originally situated in a small steeple above the chancel and was specially cast in Russia. This was the second bell given by Mr Western - the first had soon proved unsatisfactory.
  • The aisle windows on the theme "Notable Christians of the Church of England" made by G S Mayle were donated by parishioners in 1956. The window nearest the organ shows Baden Powell in scout uniform: the money for this was contributed by local scouts, guides, brownies and cubs to mark the centenary of his birth.
  • A very beautiful window depicting scenes from the life of St. Peter is situated in the north wall of the chancel. (Michael Farrar Bell)
  • The unusual east window, which was given in memory of the Sheldon family, is based on the Benedicite - "O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord", each window depicting a season of the year.  The plaque depicting the Lamb of God was given in 1956.

The main change to the exterior of the church was carried out in 1964 when the central bell turret was removed and the south transept heightened to make a tower. Subsequently additional rooms have been added on the north and east sides of the church. The rather obscure entrance door is a reflection of the time when one of the main routes to Cookham passed by the the west door of the church along Cannon Court Road.

The interior which had remained much as the same as when St Peter's was completed in 1908 was re-ordered in 2001 to make the church more suitable for modern worship requirements as well as to enable it to be used for other functions (e.g. exhibitions etc).

In the chancel the wooden rood screen was removed, the altar steps were demolished and permanent altar rails removed enabling the altar to be brought nearer the congregation and the choir stalls removed.

The east end of the chancel which had been painted in the 1950s was redecorated. The organ (obtained some years previously from the former Beaumont School Chapel) required expensive renovation and so was removed and replaced by an electronic one (some of the pipes from the old organ were retained as a decorative feature). A glass partition was installed between the chancel and the tower to form a chapel or meeting room in the space below the tower.

In the nave the remaining pews were replaced by chairs and the ceiling re-painted and the wood block floor renovated. Some fittings have been retained for use elsewhere such as the iron cross from the original bell turret, the reredos installed during chancel renovations during the 1950s and the cross from the top of the rood screen.

The Building for the Future project is on-going with a new entrance and other improvements being planned.

The War Memorials

The First World War Memorial was designed by Mr. J Pedder of Furze Platt in 1921. The Second World War Memorial was designed and made by A R Mowbray in 1949.


1873 St. Mark's Hospital Church, which was designed by Charles Cooper, opened in that year. The entire cost of the church, organ etc was met by John Hibbert of Braywick Lodge and amounted to £2,000. A brass plaque (below the West window) commemorates the Hibbert family's gift.

1878 The East window was given in memory of Matron Mary Malyon and Sister Lydia Jane Hibbert of the Union Workhouse.

1886 The West window 1886 was given by the Coney family in memory of their father.

St. Mark's is a grade II listed building and belongs to the East Berkshire Hospital Trust.