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Church of St Matthew and Churchyard Gateway, Scarborough

Description: Church of St Matthew and Churchyard Gateway

Grade: II
Date Listed: 6 November 2013
Building ID: 1415999

OS Grid Reference: NZ8285705114
OS Grid Coordinates: 482857, 505114
Latitude/Longitude: 54.4347, -0.7241

Locality: Scarborough
Local Authority: Scarborough Borough Council
County: North Yorkshire
Postcode: YO22 5QW

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Listing Text


Church of England parish church built in 1875 to the design of Armfield and Bottomley, broadly Early English in style, detailing of early French character.

Reason for Listing

* Architecture: as a good example of inventive Victorian ecclesiastical architecture, combining cleanness of line with measured ornamentation. A very effective use of early French character detailing;
* Nave roof: the design of the nave roof, an under-boarded hammer-beam roof lacking tie bars, is of particular note;
* Setting: the bold simplicity of the exterior with its substantial massing, complements the tough surrounding landscape.


St Matthews Church, Grosmont was built in 1875 to the design of Armfield and Bottomley to replace an earlier church of 1840. The building was funded largely by Charles and Thomas Bagnall, local ironmasters, and Mrs Mary Clarke, a sister of the Revd Dr William Scoresby, the Whitby navigator and polar explorer.

At the church’s opening in 1875, the architect said: “The roof construction is, we believe, the first ever designed or carried out on this plan. The Church is built on an acoustic principle derived from a chord discovered by Mr Armfield and which proved as in this case as in all others a perfect success.’ The roof design actually appears to have been derived from medieval northern Italy such as San Zeno, Verona and San Stefano, Venice. Roofs of similar profile were occasionally designed by both Sir George Gilbert Scott and John Pollard Seddon.

In 2012-13, minor internal modifications included the relocation of the font to allow the partitioning-off of the west end of the north aisle for toilets, and the partitioning-off of the corresponding part of the south aisle to form a kitchen.


Parish church, 1875, by Armfield and Bottomley. Detailing of early French character, the church being broadly Early English style.

MATERIALS: local sandstone ashlar. Welsh slate roof with the north face of the nave roof being bicoloured to form a geometric pattern.

PLAN: chancel of two bays; nave of four bays and clerestory, with side aisles and west door; south aisle extends beyond the chancel arch to form an organ chamber; north aisle has an enclosed porch extending northwards and also connects to the vestry on the north side of the chancel; a short bellcote rises from the vestry at the junction with the north aisle.

EXTERIOR: constructed of plain ashlar walling with a simple plinth, raised coping to the gables and other roof verges. Nave, chancel and porch gables are all topped by stone Celtic crosses. The windows are simple lancets with plain surrounds except for a plate tracery rose window high in the west end. The porch and west doors have two-centred arched surrounds of three chamfered orders which fade into plain, single-chamfered jambs. The vestry is heavily buttressed, suggestive of a tower base, but the bellcote only covers about a quarter of this buttressed footprint. The bellcote is of two, short stages, topped by a pyramidal slate roof with a Celtic cross finial: its upper stage is largely open, being formed by corner posts which are lightly chamfered, supporting depressed-ogee lintels.

INTERIOR: CHANCEL: exposed ashlar stonework with a boarded and ribbed wagon roof. The east window is a triple lancet with geometric stained glass windows reused from the earlier 1840 church, the lancets being framed by nook shafts with foliate capitals forming an arcade. Similar arcades with lancet windows rise from a string course to the eastern bay along both north and south walls. Ornate stone reredos incorporating a mosaic crucifixion scene. Aumbry and a 2-seat sedilia in the south wall. The chancel's two bays are divided by a double width rib which springs from a large, complex corbel in the from of an entablature supported by a pair of shafts with foliate capitals, these in turn rising from a plinth supported by a corbel table. The western bay of the chancel has an arched opening through to the organ chamber on the south side (filled by a pipe organ by Alfred Kirkland of London and Wakefield), and a smaller entrance to the vestry on the north side.
NAVE and AISLES: Walls (excepting the east end and upper portion of the west end) are white plastered except for stone ashlar dressings. The nave roof appears as an over-boarded and ribbed hammer-beam roof, the boarding across the lower braces having vaulted penetrations for the clerestory windows. The nave arcades are formed by two-centred arches of voussoirs with simple roll mouldings, supported on round piers with foliate capitals. Each pier has an attached small-diameter shaft that extends to a plain block-capital supporting a lower arch-brace to the roof, almost forming a structure within a structure. Above each nave arch there is a pair of clerestory windows which are separated by a similar small-diameter shaft that extends from a string course below the windows. The roofs to the aisles are simply detailed, as are the aisle windows which are deeply set in narrow reveals, only highlighted by the sill and the plain voussoirs being left unplastered.

GLASS: clerestory and the side windows to the chancel are all plain glazed, the remainder are stained glass, generally forming memorials: most are typical late C19 style figurative designs including The Good Shepherd, however the east windows are of geometric design, and one north aisle window is a modern abstract Calvary. The wheel window in the west end is possibly by Hardman.
FONT: this is Romanesque with a simple incised design around the rim and is thought to be early Norman. It is set on a simple C19 pedestal and has a C19 oak lid.
PULPIT: elaborate carved Caen stone pulpit incorporating a statue of St Matthew.
ALTAR: late 1940s by Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thomson of Kilburn.
Memorial plaques: Include separate First and Second World War memorials sited in the aisles.

SUBSIDIARY ITEMS: plain, churchyard boundary wall is not of special interest except for its main gateway that has carved gate piers, with cross gabled caps, supporting a pair of ornate wrought iron gates.

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.