History of St Peter’s

St Peter’s is built in the parish of West Hackney at the expense of Richard Benyon, who wants a church “to enhance the character and add lustre to the new estate” of De Beauvoir Town. The church is built in Gothic Revival style.

The crypt is used as a day school until 1885 when local board schools take over the education of poor children.

St Peter’s becomes a parish in its own right.

Plans are completed to extend the church eastwards to provide a raised chancel and another room in the crypt below for the Sunday School, along with new pews and a new organ.

During the First World War the Vestry Minutes record the “serious loss sustained by the death on the battlefield of several of the members”.

A three-day Christmas bazaar raises over £1,000 for building repairs.

The crypt is requisitioned by the government for Air Raid Precautions. Evensong is moved to 3pm because of the blackout.

The PCC minutes voices the following attitude towards new migrants from the West Indies: “We should be sociable, helpful and treat them as one would one’s white fellow Christians and not be embarrassingly over-helpful or over-friendly.”

Rock and roll nights in the crypt attract hundreds of young people on Sunday evenings (until Cliff Richard starts to perform at a church in Hackney Wick).

A reordering scheme removes the pulpit and moves the altar to a central position in the chancel. The choir stalls are reformed in the aisles at the west end.

The crypt provides temporary shelter for Kurdish refugees and part of the crypt is converted in 1996 to house the De Beauvoir Refugee Project.

St Peter’s first woman vicar is appointed, Julia Porter-Pryce.


The congregation decides to build on its tradition of hospitality by transforming its crypt into a modern, accessible and welcoming community space.

Several funding bodies, including the Big Lottery Fund, finance the £550,000 refurbishment scheme. The local community raises £50,000 from donations and fund-raising activities.

The St Peter’s Community Partnership is formed, to enable the church to reach out more effectively to the wide community of De Beauvoir Town.

The De Beauvoir War Memorial exhibition opens in the crypt. Local researchers display names and addresses for most of the 163 men of De Beauvoir who died in the First World War. A special service in church commemorates the centenary.

Rev’d Julia Porter-Pryce retires, and St Peter’s enters an interregnum.
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