St Peter’s Church is to be found in the centre of Dunchurch, opposite the Green Man public house. It is thought to date from the 9th century and there was a mention of its existence in the Domesday Book. It was originally owned by the Cistercian monastery of Pipewell in Northants, with the first non-monastic priest appointed in 1329. It was substantially rebuilt in the 13th and 14th centuries with the tower added in the 15th century. With the dissolution of the monasteries the Pipewell land was sold off in 1538, and the church has belonged to the Anglican Diocese of Coventry from that time.
Remodelling in Victorian times
There was much remodelling in Victorian times when the Revd Sandford (who went on to be archdeacon of Coventry) made changes to the chancel, re-designed the churchyard, and had three schools built. A number of ancient features are still visible including a Norman font, the base of early pillars, and several stone piscinas – depressions built into the walls where the priest kept holy water for the sacraments. The stained glass windows mainly date from the early 1900s and were designed by Herbert Bryans.
The churchyard is one of the largest in Warwickshire and includes a number of Commonwealth War Graves of airmen from the Second World War. There are six bells which date from the 1720s. In 2011 the ringing chamber was lowered from the top of the tower to a new position above the west door, where it can be seen from within the church. The church is currently appealing for funds to restore the weathered sandstone exterior walls and a grant has been given by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Dunchurch is an attractive village, three miles from Rugby. It has a number of old buildings, several of which are thatched. Guy Fawkes is believed to have plotted in “Guy Fawkes House” which is in The Square in front of the church. The Dun Cow is now a popular inn and hotel, but was once an important staging post for the stagecoaches on their way to London. In the early 20th century the village was the unlikely setting for a thriving cottage industry making ladies’ fashion gloves.