The 'new' church in Upton was finished in 1879, and was built after the 'old' church, was deemed to be in a bad state of repair and not big enough to serve the growing town's population.
Sir Arthur Blomfield drew up the plans and the site was donated by Mr G E Martin who owned the big house which was already there; this was later to become The Rectory. The church was built by Mr T Collins from Tewkesbury at an estimated cost of £12,000. Unfortunately, only £11,000 was raised by the Martin family, parishioners, Church, building societies and Halls Charity. The final items to be purchased were the chairs, and as there were no more available funds, temporary chairs were purchased for £91.00 in total. We are in the process of replacing these temporary chairs at a cost of £80 each!
The Church was consecrated on September 3rd 1879 and dedicated to St Peter and St Paul. The first Rector of the new church was Robert Lawson who was incumbent for 31 years from 1864 to 1895. He also donated the Font. A few things remained from the old church; the bells, organ and some monuments.
The Victorian church has seen some changes:
A WALK AROUND THE CHURCH
The magnificent carved screen divides the reception area from the main body of the church. A small portrait of a carver can be seen under its canopy at the south side. The nave sanctuary is the focus of all large services. The corona points to the almighty and indicates his reaching to meet our approach. To the right are the choir stalls, although the chancel is more frequently used today by the choir.
Past the nave sanctuary, the chancel is a peaceful area for smaller services. The simple crucifix, a shining empty cross, and the carving of the risen Christ breaking bread for two disciples at Emmaus, lead up to the east window. Based on the Te Deum it shows the company of heaven worshipping Christ. The whole sequence shows the heart of faith. On the right is the organ, probably an early Nicholson. It was brought from the gallery of the 18th century church, probably by Father Smith.
On the left, behind the pulpit, is the door to the Lady Chapel. The altar and panelling behind were made by a former curate. The tall candle with barbed wire takes up Amnesty International's symbol of light living amidst enclosure and barbs. It is a feature of many hours of prayer here.
Facing back down the church, the west window is a flood of colour. Made by Christopher Whall, it represents the creation with earth, air, fire and water. Man toils, but does not see the supporting angels. It is a memorial to George Edward Martin and so includes St George, Edward the Confessor and St. Martin. On the buttress by the font is another Martin memorial, carved by Eric Gill.
As you return to the back of the church, the War Memorials, with the first world war allies' flags and the Royal British Legion standards, are appropriately above the effigy of a crusader knight. He was William Boteler, a local man, who, with his brother, built the 14th century church. William's brother's effigy has never been found.
Behind the memorial is the children's corner. The wrought iron base of the old church altar was rescued from under a hedge in the 1930''. It is restored in the altar here, and on it is a miniature of an Irish Celtic standing cross, similar to the cross used by the Corrymeela community in Northern Ireland. They are dedicated to peace and reconciliation and do remarkable work. The children's corner is used regularly during services as a play area.
Around the tower area are a number of memorials which were moved from the old church and relate to burials in that churchyard. The only burials here are ashes on the south side, buried within the last 20 years. In the tower is the door to the belfry. There are 8 bells, (not rung as often as we would like). There are no views from the tower. The plaque over the belfry door marks the installation of the clock tower in 1986 at the bequest of Joseph Pratt.
CHURCH SERVICES FOR UPTON PARISH CHURCH
Everybody is welcome to come along! If you think your child might enjoy the Sunday School, it is held every Sunday 9.30 - 10.30 am in the Lady Chapel. Or if you think they are too young, then let them play in the children's corner.
If you think you have a good singing voice, and you would like to use it, then the choir will be only too pleased to see you.
There is something for everyone, whatever age you are!
We look forward to seeing you in church.