Wolverhampton Heritage Open Days
Busy busy busy! I thought it would be a great idea to check out some of the Wolverhampton events, tours and exhibitions happening in the city today. I had a fantastic time, although driving to the city was the scariest experience I’ve had in my car so far- roads of death! I managed to park in the multi-storey right in the centre, then I fumbled my way from the darkness of the underground into the light, emerging right outside the first place on my list to visit. So it all worked out well in the end.
Saint Peter’s Collegiate Church
So, the first place I visited was St. Peter’s Church, a Grade I listed building, which is right in the centre of the city. It is a mix of Early English, Decorated and Perpendicular styles in red sandstone.
I was really surprised by this place. I decided to visit without reading anything about the history, so when I entered, I was greeted with a great visitor centre which detailed the city’s heritage including interactive touch screens which allowed me to explore the city from a birds-eye view.
I also learnt about its long history, dating back to Anglo-Saxon times as the city emerged from the ‘Dark Ages’ as Heantune, a settlement with a church and a carved column. A replica of the column was in the exhibition:
The Saxon column is of similar stone and shape to columns found at Roman Wroxeter and may have been pillaged from there. It was decorated with carvings of birds, animals and acanthus from around mid 9th century. Excavation in 1949 revealed that the column stands on a circular base with a flight of four stone steps. The column may have had a cross mounted on top with a full height of nearly 8 metres and may have been used as a preaching cross or memorial. A cast of the column, with its decoration, was made by the Victorian and Albert Museum in1877. This was used as a reference for the replica in the exhibition above.
Here is the original one outside:
Whilst there is a tradition that King Wulfhere of Mercia was involved in its beginnings, Charter evidence reveals that an earlier Church was re-founded as a Minster in AD 994 by Lady Wulfrun (the Latin form is Wulfruna), who was believed to have been the grand-daughter of King Aethelred I and Queen Aethelflaed (daughter of King Alfred the Great).
In AD 985 King Aethelred II (Aethelred the Unrede) granted to Wulfrun ten hides of land at Heantune. It is believed that Heantune (or High Settlement) later became known as Wulfrun’s Heantune, hence the name Wolver-hampton. In AD 994 Wulfrun gave land at several places for the endowment of the Minster Church which she re-founded.
Here is a reconstruction map of the boundaries of Heantune:
I loved discovering this place, and it was a great start to my tour. As always, there is more to come, which I will be posting about over the weekend.