16th to 19th century
In the reign of Henry VIII, St Peter’s Church was made even bigger as new ways of worship were introduced. A north aisle was added and the south aisle was widened.
During this time, the parish was transferred to the newly formed Diocese of Chester.
Endowments to cover expenses (for saying mass and prayers for the souls of the chapel founders) were abolished. The chapels were appropriated to the chief families of the district, the lords of the manors of Levens and Dallam.
The Great Fire
On Wednesday 1st July, 1601, a terrible disaster almost destroyed St Peter’s. According to records, ‘Through negligence of a careless workman, being a plumber... the parish church of Heversham, in the county of Westmorland, was utterly consumed by fire.’ Much was destroyed, but the stonework and a large chest remained.
Within ten years, the church had been rebuilt.
The lead roofing of the church was renewed, new bells were bought from Wigan, the church was redecorated, and Bible verses and the Ten Commandments were painted on the walls. The silver-plate bowl and chalice, that were bought then, are still used every Sunday.
Until the 17th century, Heversham parish included the parish of Crossthwaite and the Lyth Valley.
A new three-decker pulpit was built for £14.10s.0d (£14.50), and stood almost in the middle of the nave. People sitting towards the front of the church faced the pulpit and the back of the church, and people sitting at the back of the church faced the pulpit and the front of the church.
A new font and a christening pew were also put in.
Up to now, the writing masters had taught their scholars in the church, but now moved out to the old school on Heversham Head.
With Bonnie Prince Charlie’s invasion, the people of Heversham panicked, and spent 1s.0d (5p) to hide the communion plate, and 5s.0d (25p) to pay for a peal of bells to celebrate his defeat.
In 1856, the parish became part of the Diocese of Carlisle.
The church was thoroughly restored in 1868.
The following year, Mr F Argles paid for the old tower to be pulled down and the present one to be built.
Until the 19th century, Heversham parish included the parishes of Milnthorpe, Croscrake, Levens and Preston Patrick, all of which are now separate parishes.