The Diocese of Sarlat was created in 1317 with a number of others in the region in the aftermath of the suppression of the Albigensians. The new bishop of Sarlat was the abbot of the ancient Sarlat Abbey, the church of which became the cathedral. Rebuilding was not completed until the 1680s. (The belfry dates from the 9th century). The diocese was abolished under the Concordat of 1801 and its territory was transferred to the Diocese of Périgueux.
Although reusing some parts of the Romanesque abbey old, the overall style of the cathedral is Gothic inspiration Nordic (presence of two collateral vessels).The Romanesque bell tower from the 12th century is the oldest part of the building, he succeeded a Carolingian building and underwent changes: the top floor 17th century and 18th century belfry bulbous. The swallow’s nest organ is the work of Jean-François The Thorn. Photos by Daniel 6 July 2016.
St Peter’s was originally built at the beginning of the 13th century, possibly on the site of an even earlier church, but was restored in 1820 and again in 1870 which is when most of the external stonework dates from. Today, it is the oldest surviving building in Berkhamsted and, architecturally, the most important.
It is in the Early English style, with clustered columns typical of the period. The church has a cruciform framework with a crossing tower. Original 13th Century windows survive in the old chancel and north aisle but most of the windows are of 14th century date.
The tower has a ring of eight bells re-cast in the Whitechapel Foundry at various dates between 1838 and 1946. The Church clock by Thwaites & Read of Clerkenwell dates from 1838. The principal organ is by Peter Collins and was introduced during the reordering of the church in the 1980s. The church also houses a small Bryceson pipe organ and has recently acquired a Kawai 7′ concert grand piano. There is seating for around 450 in the congregation.
Throughout the church there is a good selection of Victorian stained glass and brasses from as early as the 14th century. There is also a medieval coffin top tomb (c.1200) with floriated cross in St Catherine’s Chapel near the south door. The font by the west door is made of marble and introduced in to the church in 1870 whilst the pulpit’s carved angels date from 1910. The Lady Chapel on the north side of the church is a lovely vaulted space and was probably part of the original 13th century building.
The churchyard, closed in the nineteenth century, is an attractive area of lawn, on the north side of the church, with several mature trees (cedar, common lime, silver lime) and bounded on the north side by the original Berkhamsted School building of 1541-4. A yew tree, probably about 350 years old, stands within the churchyard by the junction of the High Street with Castle St.
The earliest written reference to the church is to be found in a document dated 1161, signed by Thomas a’Becket, who lived in Berkhamsted castle at that time. The main body of the church was built between 1370 and 1450 although the tower is probably of a little earlier date. It has undergone many changes since then, being extended in 1812, restored and re-modelled in 1876, extended again in 1964 and underwent major repairs in 1991.
Grade:I Date Listed: 30 November 1966 English Heritage Building ID: 157710
OS Grid Reference: SP9978813820 OS Grid Coordinates: 499788, 213820 Latitude/Longitude: 51.8141, -0.553