St. Peter and St. Paul’s Parish Church stands at the centre of the oldest part of Buckingham and has a long detailed history. But why is it positioned just off Castle Street?
The name Castle Street is a hint to the original use of the hill the Church stands on. In around 914, King Edward built a wooden medieval castle. King Edward was very successful in his conquests which meant the castle wasn’t used much. William the Conqueror then gave the castle to Walter Gifford in 1086 and it was rebuilt, but by 1305, it had been abandoned once again. and the Castle continued to be poorly maintained and by the end of the 16th century only ruins remained. John Speed’s 1610 map of Buckingham shows clear evidence of a church at the old churchyard site but nothing notable on Castle Hill. Even the ruins have now been dispersed. Look carefully at the oldest houses in the neighbouring streets and you might notice suspiciously large stones in their construction – likely to have been taken from the ruins and used to build the houses. Local records tell us that the site was being used as a bowling green for many years in the 18th century, and was a popular leisure spot
The old church was precarious and falling down, after an act of parliament in 1777, it was agreed that a new church should to be built within the town and parish of Buckingham. Castle Hill was chosen as a suitable site.
The Earl Temple of Stowe helped to fund the construction of the new church which costed thousands of pounds but in return for his financial efforts, he was given materials from the previous medieval church to help with the build of the new one. The new church was designed in a Georgian style and had many gothic elements to it but was still very simple by having just two elements, the tower and the nave.
In 1860, cracks started to form in the walls of the nave which caused huge concern over the stability of the Georgian church so, local architect Sir George Gilbert Scott was enlisted to assist in the examination of the structure and potential rebuild of the church. Fortunately, Sir Gilbert Scott was able to make relevant repairs to the church and also added some nicer features such as buttresses and a porch.
Fast forward to the 20th century and the church is much the same with only small changes and minor repairs since.