A special service was held at Brooke on Thursday 4th September 1879 to celebrate the official re-opening of St Peter after major restoration work begun in the spring of 1878.
The work was carried out under the direction of the Rt Hon Gerard Noel MP of Catmose House, now the Council Offices, his wife Lady Augusta Mary Lowther masterminded the fund raising and donations and Mr G F Finch MP of Burley on the Hill was the patron of the fund. Mr Ewan Christian, a highly respected and successful Victorian architect was employed for the chancel work and Mr James Tait, architect and partner with Langton and Herbert of Greyfriars, Leicester was employed for work to the rest of the church. The actual building work was carried out by the firm of John Jones Fast Esq of Melton Mowbray, a building contractor of some note and responsible for the restoration of many churches; in 1871 he was recorded as employing 185 men and 12 boys.
From autumn 1876 to 1879 the local papers reported the many fund raising amateur concerts and various church collections going towards St Peter’s restoration fund and by March 1878 more than £892 had been raised towards the £1OOO required. Concerts were held in the Agricultural Hall, now called the Poultry Hall at the museum, floral decorations for the Poultry Hall were provided by the Earl of Lonsdale of Barleythorpe Hall and after-show parties were held at Catmose House just across the road from the museum at the home of Gerard Noel MP and his wife Lady Augusta. The audiences included many of the titled and wealthy of the area with a number of them performing in the concerts as well.
During the fund raising events various friends of St Peter had kindly promised items of furnishings. The Rev William Syson of Toynton Rectory, Spilsby, Lines who had been born in Brooke donated two chancel chairs, the Rev Philip T Bainbrigge BA, a former curate of Oakham and Brooke but now of St Peter’s, Leicester provided the small window in the tower, Miss Lorina Bainbrigge worked and presented a scarlet embroidered altar cloth while the glass of a nave window was the gift of a Mrs Ratcliffe and Mr W D Rice and Lady Augusta Noel provided other chancel furniture.
St Peter was officially re-opened on 4th September 1879 when a special service was attended by a large congregation including a number of titled people and many friends from Oakham and Braunston. The vicar of Oakham the Rev John Mould conducted the service with lessons read by the Rev Harry Wingfield, rector of · Market Overton and the Rev J Hanbury curate of Brooke, prayers were said by the Rev Philip T Bainbrigge, former curate of Brooke and the sermon was given by the Rev Montague H Neal MA, the vicar of St Barnabus, Oxford. A new harmonium made by Gilbert L Bauer and Co of London, which had been presented to St Peter by special subscriptions was played for the first time by H Nicholson Esq, the organist of Oakham church and the Brooke choir was augmented by choristers from Oakham. The hymns for the service were ‘Before Jehovah’s Awful Throne’, ‘Christ is Our Comer Stone’, ‘O Blessed Sun Whose Splendour’ and ‘The Church’s One Foundation.’ A special Sunday service was conducted the following weekend by the Rev John Mould.
Connie Beadman writes – earlier this year a hymn sheet printed for this very service was discovered by Mrs J Jones of Shepperton, Middx after the death of her husband John Sydney Jones, Connie’s cousin, in July 2015. It was in an envelope addressed to John’s mother at Clapham Common and dated 193 8 and must have been sent to Mrs Jones after John’s grandmother Edith Jones of Grange Farm, Brooke had died aged 92years. Connie’s gt. aunt Edith Jones was the regular Brooke organist at this time and the hymn sheet was sent to her daughter because she too was the Brooke organist after her mother.