St Peter's Chapel
Holy Trinity, Coventry

St Peter's was a chapelry within Holy Trinity parish from its consecration in 1841 until 1868, when when it became a parish in its own right.

One of the many new churches created in over-populated urban parishes at the start of Victoria's reign, St Peters was built in 1840-1 to serve the mushrooming population of the new weaving suburb which had appeared in Harnall in the 1820s and 1830s. The Order in Council which established it as chapelry justified its construction by explaining that the 1841 census had recorded 12,208 people living in Holy Trinity parish, yet the parish church had a capacity of only 1,448 (though it omitted to mention that the various nonconfomist chapels in the parish could hold several thousand more). The new St Peter's had a capacity of 1,254 - nearly that of the mother church.

For the first year of its existence St Peter's was a chapel without a chapelry or permanent beneficed minister, but by an Order in Council dated 27 August 1842 it was designated as a Chapelry District, its district being the township of Harnall (London Gazette, 15 Nov 1842, pp. 3176-8). A Chapelry District was technically not a fully independent parish, but was in practice not greatly different from one. It was certainly very different from an old-style chapel-of-ease staffed by mere salaried curates employed by the rector or vicar of the mother parish - St Peter's minister was a perpetual curate, ie an incumbent appointed for life, with the right to receive all the fees for baptisms, marriages, burials etc, though he was nominated by the incumbent of the mother parish's incumbent and subject to his superintendence and control. In 1868, as part of a second round of new church construction in Coventry, St Peter's was given full independence and became a vicarage (though the right to present its vicar continued to be vested in the vicar of Holy Trinity). George Eliot and her father, who lived in Harnall from 1841 until 1849, would have been two of the new chapel's earliest parishioners.

Reference: VCH Warwickshire, vol. 8.

Info kindly supplied by Matt Tompkins

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