St. Peter in the East is situated, as its name implies, in the east of Oxford, on Queens Lane. It was one of the oldest parishes of the city, being first mentioned in 1086, and appears to have been the mother church of Oxford St. Cross and also of Wolvercote.
In 1266, the church was granted to Merton College, and in the Middle Ages was the wealthiest living in the city. For much of the 17th-early 19th centuries, however, St. Peter in the East was usually served by short-lived perpetual curates (who were junior Fellows of Merton College), and its
stipend declined greatly.
The later 19th century saw a succession of vicars who did much to improve matters, but in the 20th century, the congregation of the church declined rapidly. In 1891, the parish was united with that of Oxford St. John the Baptist and in 1957 united again with Oxford St. Cross. Finally, in 1965, the church was closed, and converted into a library for St. Edmund Hall, which function it still performs. The area of the parish was taken over by Oxford St. Cross, and records of all later baptisms, marriages and burials may be found in the registers there. Finally in 1966 the parish of St. Cross and St. Peter in the East was united with Oxford St. Mary the Virgin.
The church proper is one of the oldest in Oxford, having traces of 12th century work, and a Norman crypt.
Most of the records of Oxford St. Peter in the East were originally deposited with the Bodleian Library in various instalments in 1933, 1937, 1958 and 1966, before being transferred to Oxfordshire Archives. A further deposit was made in 1997 directly with Oxfordshire Archives from Oxford St. Cross as part of Acc. 4207. Another deposit, 6040, was made in October 2011. Two appendices respectively list the contents of each deposit, and provide a concordance of old and new references.
Catalogued by Robin Darwall-Smith in May 1997, with additions by Hannah Jones, May 2016.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: The Victoria County History of Oxfordshire, Vol. IV (1979) pp.398-401.