St Peter’s Church, Lampeter

button-theme-womenbutton-theme-evacbutton_lang_frenchbutton_lang_welshSt Peter’s Church, Lampeter

The earliest written record of a church here dates from 1291. Many regard the current building, with its prominent tower, as one of the best examples of Victorian church architecture in the region. Built from 1868 to 1870, it was designed by Robert Jewell Withers, who hailed from Somerset and oversaw the rebuilding or improvement of many Welsh churches.

lampeter_stained_glass_window_wilhelmina_geddesThe Archbishop of Canterbury and Gerald of Wales gave sermons in Lampeter on the morning of 2 April 1188, while touring Wales to recruit for the third crusade. The Cistercian abbots of Whitland and Strata Florida also preached. Many men “took the Cross” (enlisted) in Lampeter.

Some of the monuments inside pre-date the current building. They include a memorial to Jane Lloyd, first wife of Sir Charles Lloyd of Maesyfelin. She died in 1689. Sir Charles was a local MP from 1698 to 1701.

The church is noted for its stained glass windows, particularly the large west window (pictured right, courtesy of John Oakley) by the Irish artist Wilhelmina Geddes (1887-1955). She was one of the world’s foremost stained-glass artists of her time. She had an irrational fear of celestial bodies, such as shooting stars. In 2010 one of the craters of Mercury was named in her honour!

The west window was commissioned as a memorial to Sir John Charles Harford in the 1930s but the Second World War intervened. The window was installed in 1946.

Another window depicts marching First World War soldiers, a burning church and an angel with broken wings mourning a fallen soldier. The window commemorates John Charles Edmund Davies, of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, who died in the Battle of Arras in 1917.

In the lower part of the churchyard are the graves of poor people who lived at the nearby Workhouse.

In the upper part of the churchyard are the graves of many Polish people who settled in this area during or after the Second World War. Most of them had served with the Allied forces. After the conflict, many Poles chose to settle in Britain rather than return to their homeland, which had become a Communist state. This large cluster of Poles in the Lampeter area had to learn not only a new language but also new skills, such as farming.

lampeter_grave_of_leokadia_krzepiszPictured left is the gravestone of Leokadia Krzepisz, nee Kopczyńska (1907-1980), who received Poland’s Cross of Valour in the Second World War. She was an officer in the Polish resistance, known as the Home Army. She took part in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, where the Home Army tried to oust German forces from Warsaw. When Germany fought back, the Soviet Union refused to help or allow other Allies to deliver supplies by air. Leokadia was one of many Poles taken prisoner of war before Germany destroyed Warsaw. She was held in Oberlangen, Germany’s camp for female prisoners of war.

Also buried here is Andrzej Gdula, one of many Polish army officers sent to a Siberian gulag by the Soviet security forces at the outbreak of the war. He escaped and joined the Polish army in the Middle East. After the war he came here with his wife Maria via a resettlement camp in Essex. She had served in the Polish army in Palestine.

With thanks to Kristina Zatylna, of the Studium Polski Podziemnej (Polish Underground Movement Study Trust), and to Wieslaw Gdula and the Rev Victoria Hackett

Postcode: SA48 7ER    View Location Map

Parish website

Details of all stained glass at St Peter’s Church - Stained Glass in Wales website

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