In 1561 the advowson was passed to the Crown. The ornamental embattled parapets are said to date from 1634, and are just one of several notable seventeenth-century interventions, including a screen across the west end, the elaborate font cover, the pulpit and benches in the nave and aisles. The chancel roof and south aisle roofs were replaced and releaded in 1812, and the church was restored in 1898 and again in the early twentieth century, when the floor was lifted and the seating rearranged.
The church has never failed to elicit superlatives. For Simon Jenkins, it was ‘the Queen of the Marshlands…St Peter’s is to west Norfolk what Salle is to the east, a church for the connoisseur of this noble county’. He gives it five stars, one of only eighteen of his thousand best churches to be awarded that accolade, and the only one on Norfolk.
In a county of magnificent medieval churches, John Betjeman considered it ‘perhaps the finest’, and this view was also shared by H. Munro Cautley. Pevsner & Wilson went further and thought that ‘Walpole possesses one of the most impressive churches of its date in the country’ and Alec Clifton-Taylor concurred: ‘Among village churches it would not be easy to find a more beautiful example of the style than Walpole St Peter in Norfolk […] It is the ensemble … which offers such a wonderful and, once seen, unforgettable aesthetic experience’.
The fact that (the tower apart) it was rebuilt in one almost continuous programme gives it a degree of architectural cohesiveness not common in medieval English parish churches. This architectural unity combined with its cathedral proportions, exquisite carved detail and wealth of furnishings give the building undoubted high archaeological, architectural and historical significance. This is reflected in its Grade I listed status, a category enjoyed by only about 2.5% of listed buildings.