The early hours of Sunday 28th July 1996 saw dramatic scenes on the East Cliff as the night sky turned red. St. Peter’s Church was on fire! It took nine hours for the fire brigade to control the flames by which time much of the Church had been heavily damaged. The Vicarage and the School were saved. The fire had been started in the Baptistry and much of the north and west end of the Church was burned. The Church roof was almost entirely destroyed along with the electric and heating systems. The historic organ was also severely affected. The overall cost of the restoration came to some £400,000 of which £100,000 was raised by the congregation.
The Church architects, John Glanfield and Partners of St. Albans, drew up imaginative plans for the restoration, including a new lighting and heating system, a new store room, re-modelling of the West end of the Nave, the provision of an open Chapel and renovation to the organ. Many dozens of workers and skilled tradesmen were engaged on the renovation work from April 1997 to June 1998. The Church was solemnly rededicated for use by the Bishop of Richborough on St. Peter’s Day, 29th June 1998.
Three young men, two of whom subsequently admitted to being devil-worshippers were arrested and charged with arson, with recklessness to endangering human life.