Peter's Church of Ireland
It is known that a church existed on this site in 1230 AD, as Primate Donal O'Fidabra held a synod here. It was a large building with seven chapels: St Anne's, St George's, St Martin's, St John the Baptist, St Patrick's and St Peter's. The steeple of the church, supposed to be the highest in the world was thrown down by a violent storm at Midnight 27th January 1548. Its replacement was made of wood. From the end of the thirteenth century, when "the men of English blood or birth" appointed to the Primacy were not accepted by the Irish dean and chapter in Armagh, the Archbishops of the diocese took residence alternately in Drogheda and Termonfeckin. St Peter's served as their pro-Cathedral, a place for important synods, the ordination of clergy and consecration of bishops. The Ecclesiastical courts of Armagh were regularly convened there. Some of the great Primates who officiated there were buried in the grounds of St Peter's, including Octavian del Palacio who died in 1513 having taken charge of the diocese of Armagh for thirty-four years.
When Oliver Cromwell assaulted Drogheda in 1649, he burned down the wooden spire in order to kill the hundred townspeople who had taken refuge there. Perhaps in reparation, Cromwell's army donated £10,000 for the repair of three ecclesiastical buildings including St Peter's. However, by 1710 the church was in ruins. It was decided to clear the site and start afresh; the new church was completed in 1752, built in the Renaissance style.
Graveyard of St Peter's
A large cadaver tombstone slab can be found embedded in the wall at the north-east corner of St Peter's graveyard, together with the four sides of the tomb itself. The tombstone dates back to the 14th century and is part of a fashion widespread in Europe, although relatively rare in Ireland, which explored bodily decomposition and human mortality. This reflected a preoccupation with death arising from the great plague of 1347 to 1350, and subsequent epidemics. This particular slab dates from 1520 and was associated with Sir Edmond Golding and his wife Elizabeth Flemying, the daughter of the Baron of Slane.
Against the north wall of the church is a Tudor mantelpiece in carved stone, bearing the arms of Elcock and Duffe and dating from 1584. It is assumed that this came from a house built by Nicholas Elcock in Patrickswell Lane in 1583. The Elcock tomb is nearby, also stemming from the 16th century and used by the Elcocks until a few decades ago.
|Return to Drogheda page|