The church of St Peter, Staple Fitzpaine occupies a site on rising ground to the south of the village centre of Staple Fitzpaine diagonally opposite the Greyhound Inn. The history of the building is entwined with two local noble and gentry families – Portman and Farnham – whose connection can be seen in the many memorable memorials connected with the church. Members of the Portman family continue their connection to the church to this day.
The Church consists of a large, high nave with a chancel at the east end and a tower at the west. There are north and south aisles of equal length, a vestry to the north east which is accessed from the raised sanctuary, and a south porch. Access to the tower chambers is via a vice turret on the North side.
The Church is constructed in squared and coursed Blue Lias limestone with Ham stone dressings, Welsh slates sloping roofs with coped verges and lead or stainless steel flat roofs behind plain parapets. The interior has Lias flagstone floors, un-plastered walls, wagon roofs to the nave and chancel and shallow pitched paneled ceilings to the aisles.
How the building has developed over the years
The church is Norman in origin and the south doorway is notable being overwhelmed with decorative zigzags, small heads, diaperwork, rosettes, oxen and birds. The doorway was repositioned from the nave wall when the south aisle was added in 1841. The windows from the south nave were also repositioned and in this building campaign the south porch and north east vestry were added. Previous to this the chancel was built in the 14thcentury followed by the north aisle in the fifteenth century when the windows were renewed, the splendidly ornate tower is 15thcentury. The church was re-seated and restored in 1894 and re-roofed in the mid 20thcentury.
The tower is a tour de force of the medieval mason’s art. It is linked by Pevsner in a group of ‘masterpieces of tower design in the Vale of Taunton’ with Bishop’s Lydeard, Huish Episcopi, IsleAbbots, Kingston Episcopi, Kingston, North Pethertonand Taunton. It is a crenellated 3-stage tower with setback buttresses.