St Thomas Cathedral is the main church of the Syriac Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom.
St Peter’s was built in 1915 to replace a mission church that started in a tent in Southfield Park (just across the road).
The church was designed by WA Pite (brother of the more celebrated architect Beresford Pite) in a neo-Byzantine style and modelled on the great basilicas of Rome and Northern Italy. Because it was built during the austerity years of the first world war, it lacks architectural decoration, but makes up for it with a well detailed large and powerful space.
You enter through a narthex into a simple basilica nave with narrow aisles that widen at the east end for chapels on the north and south sides. After the first world war additions to the interior became possible. These included the creation of a side chapel dedicated to the Sacred Heart, panelled and screened in oak, to the designs of the notable (and local) church decorator Martin Travers. An organ was acquired from one of the City churches and installed on the west gallery. The church has very good acoustics for music.
The powerful simplicity of St Peter’s is striking, and the sheer scale of the building makes it both impressive and surprising to the first time visitor.