The Parish Church of St Matthias is situated among the bustling and somewhat diverse community of Stoke Newington in north London where it has stood for over a 156 years.
The church was designed during the Victorian era by the famous gothic revival architect William Butterfield and was completed in 1853. On the right is a drawing by the architect.
At the time, Stoke Newington was becoming part of London but 'was still one of the most delightful of metropolitan suburbs, having an air of calmness and seclusion’.
How times have changed! It still resembles calmness but seclusion is far beyond its reality.
From the outside, the church looks somewhat dark and dingy. A school now separates what was once the front of the church which now sadly lies behind a brick wall, which can give the impression that the church is derelict. Our parish priest, Fr David Lambert, aims to replace the wall with railings as soon as funds allow.
To gain access to the church, you have to walk round the perimeter. However, when you enter this amazing building, we hope that you will encounter the spiritual dimension and allow yourselves to be touched by the Holy Spirit and the warmth and friendliness which the family of St Matthias extends.
When you visit the church, we hope you'll enjoy the architecture, and spend time witnessing the stained glass windows that depict the history of the gospel accounts, and a very thoughtful account of recent modern history when the church was bombed and a lot of the paintings and roof were destroyed.
One is often struck by the colourful and detailed architecture of the church ceiling. A school of thought believe's that the ceiling is decorated where a bomb fell during the Second World War. Take some time to inspect the wall mounted pictures in the sacristy at the back of the church!
The pews have recently been installed and were acquired from another Butterfield church in Hammersmith, along with the Stations of the Cross, the Pulpit and Altar rails, which, due to lack of funding and being declined by English Heritage, are not yet installed.
The font and baptistery is yet another lovely part of the church and although the entrance is blocked, the wall contains a great mural of the Baptism of Christ.
The Church organ is another great feature within the church - a rare four manual keyboard. The consul is cleverly situated by the nave altar with the pipes being above the baptistery. The organ gives a great sound when played by our resident organist Mr Stephen Jasper, who follows in the footsteps of Dr W.H. Monk (who wrote 'Abide With Me'). More details about music at St Matthias can be found on the music page of this site.
Researching our history ...
Fr David spent a morning recently looking at the parish records from the early 1850s until the early years of the twentieth century. He concentrated on the records of marriages in order to find the names of the vicars of the parish. Using these records and the book mentioned below, we've been able to identify the first 6 vicars as follows:
The Rev. Thomas Pope (Perpetual Curate) - 1849 to 1854
The Rev. Samuel W. Mangin - 1854 to 1858
The Rev. Charles James Le Guyt - 1858 to 1877
The Rev. Francis Caudwell - 1878 to 1901
The Rev. W. Armstrong Buck - 1901 to 1905
The Rev. Ernest Driver - from 1905 to ? (to be discovered!)
And here are their photographs:
These photographs are taken from a book entitled 'An Historical London Church' written by T. Francis Bumpus. The book is subtitled:
"A record of 65 years' life and work in the church and parish of S. Matthias, Stoke Newington'.
The book was published in 1913 and has some fascinating details about the church and parish.
We hope to be able to track down the names of the vicars who came after Rev. Driver in the near future.
The Second World War
St Matthias Church suffered bomb damage during enemy action on January 5th 1941.
The vicarage was totally destroyed and the church suffered severe damage, especially to the roof.
A brochure was produced in 1946 - after the end of the war - to help raise £1,000 in order to restore the church.
Here is a photo of the church as it was then .....