Gayton is a scattered village in central Staffordshire, some 5 miles NE of the centre of Stafford. It stands on a rise above the Trent, a mile away to the SW, and Gayton Brook, a tributary of the Trent, runs to the N of the village centre. The church is on the W side of the village with a moated site alongside it.
St Peter's has a nave, now with a 19thc. S aisle but previously with a N aisle. This has been removed, the arcade blocked, and the wall rebuilt in brick of the same type found on the tower, and presumably at the same time (1732). The 15thc. N arcade remains visible on the interior, and both this and the 19thc. S arcade are of four bays. The nave has a S doorway only, under a 19thc. porch. The chancel arch is 12thc. but heavily restored, and the chancel was rebuilt in 1870 by Habershon and Pite of London (who were apparently responsible for the S nave aisle too), the work paid for by John Purcell Fitzgerald the Lay Impropriator. It contains a 13thc. wall tomb with an effigy and has a N vestry. The battlemented W tower is of brick and dates from 1732. From the exterior the church appears entirely post-medieval; the tower and N nave wall in industrial-looking red and blue brick and the rest in Habershon and Pite's rusticated yellowish ashlar. The William Salt Library holds two views of the church from the SE, dating from 1838 and 1841, before the S aisle was added (SV-IV.215a and SV-IV.214a). The only Romanesque feature is the over-restored chancel arch.
The Domesday Survey records that Gayton was held by Almaer and Alric before the Conquest. In 1087 it was in the hands of Earl Roger, and Gosbert and Wulfric held it from him. It consisted on 1 hide of ploughland, 6 acres of meadow and woodland a league long and half a league broad.
Benefice of Fradswell, Gayton, Milwich and Weston on Trent.
Round headed, of single order. The jambs have en-delit nook-shafts to the W. Both capitals are 19thc. replacements, with a W-shaped low roll in relief on each face, roll neckings and tall abaci. The imposts have quirked chamfers, and are partly replacement (towards the W) and partly recut. The nook-shafts have no bases, but square-section neckings on chamfered plinths, again 19thc. or heavily restored. The W face of the arch has an angle roll and lateral chevron on the face outside it, consisting of three hollow alternating with two rolls. This is 12thc. work, but the label is entirely 19thc., hollow chamfered with a row of billet in the hollow. The E face of the chancel arch has plain embrasures and arch, the imposts continuing onto the W chancel wall.