St Peter


Harry James led an excavation of the site and the findings are written up in Excavation on the site of Flawford Church 1967-1984. A summary of their findings is as follows:

Around 600 flints near the area of the church dating to the mid Bronze Age, but possibly a temporary camp of a group of itinerant flint workers.

A pit with gullies and post holes, indicating a well-established Late Iron Age occupation continuing until mid to late-1st century AD

Wall foundations of the church and part of a tessellated floor inside the angle of the north-south and east-west walls, representing phases of a large Romano-British villa with evidence which is dateable from late-1st century to mid-4th century AD, extending beyond the church building area into the fields east and north of the churchyard.

A small Saxon church, probably early-9th century which evolved in ten phases into a larger medieval church. No evidence of a timber structure prior to the original stone church, which consists of a small rectangular nave and near square chancel, 9m x 5.5m and 4.25m x 4m respectively.

Phase 2 consisted of a westward extension of the nave by 2.75m. Evidence of north and south doorways, the latter being the main door of the church.

Phases 3 and 4 both appear to belong to the late Saxon period, although there is no evidence to suggest which came first. Phase 3 consists of a further extension of 3.05m x 3.65m of the church building to the west, the substantial foundations suggesting this may be the base of three walls of a west tower, the end wall of the Phase 2 building being used as a base for the eastern wall (the small area of the base being commensurate with that of a slender Saxon tower). Phase 4 is an eastern extension (3.6m x 3.3m) on to the east wall of the Phase 1 chancel – now referred to as the Sanctuary.

Phase 5 saw the demolition of the slender tower and addition of a much larger tower to the west, c7m square. Due to the thickness of the walls the interior dimensions were only 3m square. Excavation of the west corners revealed the foundations of angled buttresses.

Phase 6, probably mid-13th century, saw the demolition of the chancel and sanctuary and the construction of a larger chancel 13.7m long x 5m wide, with two buttresses along the north and south walls and angle buttresses at the east end.

Phase 7 consisted of the addition of an unusually narrow north aisle outside the north wall of the nave, into which an arcade of two arches with a central pier would have been inserted. The aisle length was 11.5m but the width only 1.4m.

Phase 8, construction of the south aisle, 11.9m x 4.7m: the only part of the church construction for which there is documentary evidence. In about 1280 Archbishop Wickwane gave Robert (de Ruttington) commission to dedicate the new chapel which he had erected at Flawford. Dedicated the Chapel of St Andrew, it was generally referred to as Dunblane’s Aisle, since Robert was Bishop of Dunblane 1258-84. There was a stone-built wall seat along the west wall and the south wall to within 3m of the east end.

Phase 9 revealed the construction of a two-roomed cottage abutting up to the north aisle, c.12.2m long x 5.5m wide and externally divided into two rooms, one slightly larger than the other. The proximity to the church strongly suggests a priest’s house.

Phase 10 was the demolition of the north cottage, the addition of a small lean-to structure between the north-east corner of the tower and the west end of the north aisle, and the building of a strong supporting wall at the east end of the north aisle (possibly late 16th-century). Access to this building would have been from the inside of the church through the north door. This could have been constructed to house the silver plate, books and other valuables.

The archaeological evidence indicated the church was built of stone from the outset, as there was no evidence of a timber structure on the same site. A burial beneath the south-east corner of the original Saxon nave appeared to imply a Christian presence on the site prior to the stone church being constructed. The site possibly commended itself to the Saxons because of its Christian tradition dating back to the Romano-British period.

It is known that the church had a spire, which collapsed in 1770. This was possibly a broach spire. James notes that it is almost certain that the Phase 5 west tower would have been flat-topped with the spire being added later, probably in the late 13th or early 14th century. The buttresses which appear to have been added at a later date could well have been intended to strengthen the tower against the additional weight of a spire. There are several documented references to a spire, but only one sketch, drawn from memory by a former local resident, and quoted by Throsby.

The south door of the Phase 2 extension became the main doorway. There was no door opening into the south aisle.