Description: Church of St Matthew
Date Listed: 14 September 1976
English Heritage Building ID: 294070
OS Grid Reference: TQ7992110459
OS Grid Coordinates: 579921, 110459
Latitude/Longitude: 50.8656, 0.5555
757/16/507 ST MATTHEW'S ROAD
CHURCH OF ST MATTHEW
Church, built on a sloping site W of the church hall which is the site of the previous 1860s church. The E end rises high above the surrounding buildings to E. 1884 by J L Pearson in Early English style, cost £11,000, builder Mr Shillitoe. S tower begun in 1896, also to Pearson's design, builder C W Pelling Hurrell. A stone spire was intended but not built. 1935 clergy vestry; small c.1985 meeting room.
MATERIALS: English bond red brick with freestone dressings and tiled roofs; timber fleche with shingled spire. Internally the walls are faced with yellow Sittingbourne brick with red brick polychromatic patterned bands. The church guide refers to concrete foundations and concrete infill to the walling.
PLAN: Nave with N & S aisles under the same roof; transepts; apsidal chancel with SE chapel and NE organ chamber with rooms below the apse; fleche between nave and chancel; SW porch/tower; NW porch with meeting room adjoining; NE clergy vestry.
EXTERIOR: Buttressed with moulded stringcourses and coped gables. The aisles have 3-light windows of stepped lancets. The W end (concealed by scaffolding at time of visit, 2002) has a large window of 4 lancets with a quatrefoil in a roundel in the head. The S transept has a variation on plate tracery with two 2-light openings divided by a buttress-like mullion under a sexafoil. The N transept is plainer with 3 lancets below two quatrefoils. SE chapel is separately roofed with a plain stone parapet. The apse has a corbelled cornice and lancet windows divided by stone shafts. SW tower of 2 stages with massive angle buttresses, capped off with a low hipped roof. Richly-moulded doorway into the tower with triple shafts, a 2-leaf plank door with curly strap hinges. The doorway is flanked by gables statue niches. Pretty shingled fleche with 2-light openings with shafts under gables on each face and a slender spire.
INTERIOR: Nave chancel division marked by a low stone wall and doubled roof truss. The pitch pine roof is crown post and tie beam design, the crown posts with 4-way braces, the tie beams on moulded stone corbels on shafts which descend without interruption through the arcade piers. Arcade piers have three shafts with moulded capitals. Brick arches spring from the aisle side of the arcades forming ribs to the aisles which are divided into painted groin-vaulted bays. Above the arcades, a clerestory of blind quatrefoils. Wrought iron sanctuary rail. Splayed chancel windows divided by shafts. Polychromatic lozenges below the sills. Stone reredos with 3 panels of sculpted figures under traceried vaulting designed by Sir Aston Webb, made by J Daymond and Son. This, along with the oak panelled dado with finely-carved blind tracery and cresting was dedicated in 1901. Paired arches from the transepts into the organ chamber and SE chapel. The chapel is divided from the chancel by a 3-bay double arcade and from the S transept by a pair of arches. It incorporates stained glass from the 1860s church. Polygonal stone pulpit of 1888, designed by Pearson, with blind trefoil-headed arches divided by shafts on a base with shafts. 1888 octagonal stone font, the bowl carved with symbols, on an octagonal stem. Choir stalls with carved backs and ends, probably early C20. Nave benches with shaped ends. 1890 Father Willis organ, installed 1890, case designed by Pearson, carved by A Robinson.
The centenary church guide includes an illustration of the N side before the tower was begun.
SUMMARY OF IMPORTANCE: St Matthew is an outstanding red brick church of 1884 in Early English style by J L Pearson, one of the most distinguished of English Gothic Revival architects. It is an imposing building which rises above the surrounding buildings to the east, and replaced an earlier church of 1860. Despite the fact that the tower was not completed, the church is still architecturally inventive, with subtle interior polychromy, a blind clerestory and vaulted aisles. Fittings include a good reredos by Sir Aston Webb dated to about 1901. The memory of the earlier 1860's church is continued in the incorporation of the stained glass from that church.
Pevsner, Sussex, 1965, 522
Moxey, E; Marchant, R and Protheroe, J., St Matthew's Parish Church 1885-1985, 1985
Curl, J.S., Oxford Dictionary of Architecture
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.