St Peter's parish was created from that of its overflowing mother church, St Leonard's, in order to minister to the ever expanding Victorian population. Today the parish spans parts of Streatham and West Norwood and includes some 5,000 homes and 16,000 people of all ages, races and religions.
The church was built on land given by George Drew, who owned a large part of the Leigham Manor Estate and who lived at Leigham Court. He also built Leigham Court Road and sold or redeveloped the remainder of the estate. He was supported by a number of wealthy families of the area, the Trollopes, the Morgans and others. They felt that the church they needed should be in the tradition of the Oxford Movement, then 30-40 years old, and they particularly wanted to have somewhere where the music would play a worthy part in the reverent and devotional worship they were asking for.
A temporary ‘tin’ church was erected on the west side of Leigham Court Road initially whilst the new church was built. It was dedicated in 1865 to St Peter and St Paul.
The foundation stone of St Peter’s was laid by the wife of the rector of Streatham, Mrs Nicholl. The dedication of the stone was performed at the same ceremony by the Bishop of Honolulu on June 28th 1868. Within two years enough of the new church had been completed for it to be used, and on July 2nd 1870 it was consecrated by the diocesan Bishop of Winchester, Samuel Wilberforce. The first mass was celebrated by the vicar The Reverend Arthur C. Tarbutt.