History in Structure

Gates, Gate Piers, Boundary Railings and Walls to Church of St Peter

A Grade II Listed Building in Southwark, London

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Latitude: 51.4868 / 51°29'12"N

Longitude: -0.0929 / 0°5'34"W

OS Eastings: 532506

OS Northings: 178152

OS Grid: TQ325781

Mapcode National: GBR RP.86

Mapcode Global: VHGR0.BWQL

Plus Code: 9C3XFWP4+PR

Entry Name: Gates, Gate Piers, Boundary Railings and Walls to Church of St Peter

Listing Date: 27 September 1972

Last Amended: 20 October 2022

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1385663

English Heritage Legacy ID: 471067

ID on this website: 101385663

Location: Newington, Southwark, London, SE17

County: London

District: Southwark

Electoral Ward/Division: Faraday

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Southwark

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: Walworth St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Southwark

Tagged with: Gate

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A set of gates forming the principal, west entrance to the churchyard of the Church of St Peter, and associated boundary railings and walls, erected around 1825 under the direction of Sir John Soane. The walls were constructed by William Chadwick and the railings and gates were probably made by Jonathan Bateman.


A set of gates forming the principal, west entrance to the churchyard of the Church of St Peter, and associated boundary railings and walls, erected around 1825 under the direction of Sir John Soane.

MATERIALS: gate piers of Portland stone; gates, inner gate piers and railings of cast and wrought iron; north boundary wall of stock brick with stone copings.

PLAN: the surviving original boundary railings and gates enclose the churchyard on its east boundary and the northern half of its west boundary. The main gates are to the west with a section of iron railings extending north as far as the north-west corner of the churchyard. This section of railings extends across what is now the rear garden of the Old Rectory. The east side of the churchyard is bounded by more iron railings, which originally would have extended along the south side adjacent to Liverpool Grove but were removed in the Second World War. The north boundary has original full-height brick walls at both ends but the central section is lower with late C20 railings*. This section of railings is not of special interest and is not included in the List entry.

DESCRIPTION: the west entrance to the churchyard comprises a pair of stone GATE PIERS, with inner piers and GATES of cast iron. Each of the stone piers has a four-sided, tapered plinth, moulded at the bottom where it stands on the square base. The top of each pier has a square capstone in the shape of a cinerarium lid (a variant on the Neo-classical urn that was a popular form of finial in the Greek Revival) featuring a five-pointed star motif. This design recurs on the tops of the inner, cast iron piers, which have a square section with each face comprising an upturned torch (symbolising eternal life) rising the full height of the pier flanked by square bars. The gates themselves comprise a set of carriage gates between the inner piers and a pedestrian gate either side. All have spiked finials and a frieze with a circle pattern at the top, with a row of arrowhead finials and a diamond-patter frieze to the dog bars. The central gates also have two large wheel motifs to the top corners, and a central finial resembling an anthemion. The gates show signs of extensive repair with visible fractures between elements, some of which appear to have been welded back together, and metal straps with Allen bolts have been wrapped around the inner gate piers as reinforcement. There are also empty sockets below the upper hinges of the central gates which may originally have held additional hinges, but are not depicted on a measured drawing of the gates published in the Survey of London in 1955 (see Sources). It is possible that some individual elements have been replaced with new castings.

The iron BOUNDARY RAILINGS to the west and east sides of the churchyard echo the design of the gates with spiked finials and a circle-pattern frieze. The railings are set in a brick plinth. The length of railings that runs across the garden of the Old Rectory has lost some of a small number of circular components from the upper frieze, and has two small sections removed, one to incorporate a modern gate* and the other a metal staircase* providing access between the house and garden. This gate and staircase are not of special interest and are not included in the List entry.

The north BOUNDARY WALL has full-height sections to the west and east that are built off a brick plinth the same height as the lower section in the centre. The walls are constructed from stock brick laid in English garden wall bond with over-sailing stone copings to the full-height sections. Some small sections have been rebuilt in Flemish bond. There are two brick piers with cinerarium lid capstones to the north-west corner and the centre of the wall that are similar in design to those of the stone gate piers at the west entrance. On the south side of the wall facing the churchyard there is an embedded stone plaque with the following inscription: THE GROUND THREE FEET/ NORTH OF THIS WALL/ IS THE PROPERTY OF THE/ TRUSTEES FOR BUILDING/ TWO NEW CHURCHES IN/ THIS PARISH.

* Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’), it is declared that these aforementioned features are not of special architectural or historic interest, however any works which have the potential to affect the character of the listed building as a building of special architectural or historic interest may still require LBC and this is a matter for the LPA to determine.


The Church of St Peter, Walworth (NHLE: 1385662; Grade I) was constructed 1823-1825, the first of three Commissioners’ churches designed by Sir John Soane to be completed after the Church Building Act 1818. With a limited budget imposed by the Commissioners, Soane tendered for many small contractors to save money. The stone mason for St Peter’s, William Chadwick, was also contracted to build the curbs, and retaining walls around the churchyard. Jonathan Bateman and Associates served as smiths and founders during construction of the church, and it is possible they were also responsible for the boundary railings. It is not known whether Soane was directly responsible for the design of the gates and boundary structures, although it is likely that he had a hand in their design. Archive drawings held by Sir John Soane’s Museum show that he designed the boundary railings and walls for both of his other Commissioners’ churches: St John on Bethnal Green, constructed 1826-28 (NHLE: 1065245; Grade I), and Holy Trinity in Marylebone (NHLE: 1267658; Grade I), although the railings do not survive at the latter.

In 1895 the churchyard was made into a public garden by the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association at the cost of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, an event commemorated by an inscription on a water fountain that stands at the east end of the churchyard. An instrumental figure in this transformation was J W Horsley, who served as rector to St Peter’s from 1894 to 1904. A rectory was constructed in the 1880s to the north of the gates following the demolition of the St Peter’s Sunday School, which had been constructed on the same site in about 1839. The north-west corner of the churchyard was later deconsecrated to form the garden of the Old Rectory.

Originally the churchyard was bounded by a low wall with iron railings to its west, south and east sides. During the Second World War the railings along the south-west and south boundaries of the churchyard were removed for the war effort. The retaining wall beneath the removed south-west and south sections of railings is thought to have been rebuilt after the war and was again rebuilt in 2018 using replacement bricks on the existing foundations. The north boundary is thought to originally have been entirely brick-built. Sections of full-height brick walls survive at either end with some small areas rebuilt with modern bricks, while the central section of low wall had railings installed in the late C20 to replace stolen bricks.

Reasons for Listing

The Gates, Gate Piers and Boundary Railings and Walls to the Church of St Peter, constructed around 1825, are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:
* for their high-quality materials and craftsmanship, particularly evident in the ironwork and stone gate piers;
* for the design of the gates, gate piers and wall capstones, which feature iconography typically associated with burial grounds;
* for their probable design by Sir John Soane, one of Britain’s most distinguished architects.

Historic interest:
* as a tangible illustration of the historic boundary of the churchyard of the Church of St Peter.

Group value:
* with the Grade I-listed Church of St Peter.

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