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St. John the Baptist Rebuilt

1407

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The citizens of Medehamstede, lived to the east of the abbey and what is now the Cathedral, on the edge of the fenland. After the great fire of 1116, the inhabitants were moved to the west of the abbey where the land was drier. Unfortunately they did not move the church to the west, and for several centuries the inhabitants of the town had to walk round the vast abbey grounds to reach their isolated church. This was made more difficult by flooding from streams that ran in front of the church, making attendance problematic in the winter. A petition was made to move the church to the west of the abbey, which was granted by the Bishop of Lincoln in 1402. The new church was built using stone from the old one and the Becket Chapel, as well as oak from Abbot William Genge's park. He dedicated the church to St John the Baptist on 26th June 1407. It was originally built with a large leaded spire, which was conspicuous from some distance. Unfortunately, due to instability, it was removed in the 1820s, but it can be seen in John Speed's Map, A Prospect of Peterborough and an old photograph.





A Prospect of Peterborough

1731

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In the Eighteenth Century a popular purchase by the wealthy was of a view of the town or lands that they lived in. They were known as a prospect. In 1731 an engraving of Peterborough was created titled 'A South West Prospect of the City of Peterborough, In Northamptonshire.'
The View
The artwork was created by Nathaniel and Samuel Buck, two brothers from Yorkshire who specialised in topographical engravings. They created a series of interesting vistas of different areas across the country. The engraving is taken from a realistic view point, but the artist has created the scene. It includes features that cannot normally been viewed together or viewed in such fullness. It could be considered an early form of photoshopping. Some features can be found in contemporary maps and include the trees by the river and some of the buildings.
Features of the Prospect
Some of the most interesting features include Neville Place, St John's Church and the buildings near the bridge. There are no other pictures or photographs of these buildings at this time, so these are very valuable images. Peterborough Cathedral takes centre-stage in the picture and dominates the landscape. It is drawn in great detail and true to life, unlike other buildings that were drawn. This is likely to be because it is the most recognisable building in the city and the artist would be judged on how well they drew the cathedral.