History

Parish Church of St. Matthew, Chadderton - Grade II Listed 

Location: Corner of Chadderton Hall Road and Mill Brow.

The Parish of St. Matthew, Chadderton was formed in 1844. Prior to the present building there was a small wooden chapel erected in 1845, to meet the spiritual needs of the parish, whilst the present building was constructed. Work, by E. H. Shellard began in 1847 and the church in its original form was completed and consecrated in 1857. Although the parish at that time was geographically large the number of dwellings was not. However, over the years more housing was built and the parish was divided to form the parishes St. Mark, St. Luke, St. Gabriel, Middleton Junction, St. Anne, Royton and St. Matthew; part of the parish was also annexed to the parish of St. Leonard, Middleton. The current parish has about 2500 dwellings with a population of approximately 7000 souls. Much of the parish is made up of semi-detached housing, with some detached and some terraced. Whilst the area in general can be described as sub-urban, there are pockets of rural land which is farmed, and areas of green-belt. The parish has various ages of housing (most of which is privately owned) some 19th Century, some pre-war and post-war, as well as a 1970’s estate and some local authority housing. Around the parish a small retail park and various local shops are located.

There are several schools in the parish: St. Matthew, VA infant, situated next door to the church; a community Junior opposite, a State Secondary, with 6th form, also on the opposite side of the road; and a independent Preparatory School at the top end of the parish.

The church, with its tower (added in 1881) is a local landmark, being visible from Chadderton Hall Road and the immediate surrounding area; however, as the tower is not very tall the church is obscured by other buildings and trees beyond this.

The church grounds are extensive, running from Mill Brow down to Chadderton Fold. Much of this is consecrated graveyard, although the extension, a large field to the north of the section currently being used as graveyard space, is rented to St. Matthew’s infant school as a playing field. The graveyard remains quite active with an average of ??? burials a year; a section of the graveyard has been set aside for the interment of cremated remains. The graveyard is a beautiful community space that is often visited.

The church itself is built of Hammer-dressed stone with a slate roof. The original building has had various additions over the years. The Three-stage tower with clasping buttresses has an arched door, small lancet openings and a squat spire which sits behind corner pinnacles (and accommodates the belfry with just the one tolling bell) with gabled 2-light openings was added in 1881 towards the south west corner of the church. In the early 1970’s the flat roofed extensions were added. One at the west end and north west corner of the original church to create a new entrance, Narthex and choir vestry, the other at the north east corner to provide a vicar’s vestry. The main, and original part of the church consists of a four-bay nave with projecting plinth and gableted buttresses (2 on each side), each bay has a 2-light window with reticulated tracery; and chancel, which has two-bays with cusped lancet windows.

Although the exterior of the church suggest a typical 19th Century country church the interior, whilst keeping its traditional features, has a light, modern and intimate feel. This has been achieved through the re-decoration and re-ordering in 1986 after a fire that damaged much of the plaster work, pews and organ. The oak pews were salvageable, and therefore restored and returned; the plaster renewed and re?? -painted white. The original pipe organ could not be salvaged and was replaced by an electronic 2 manual organ built by Makin.

The original main door to the church has been dispensed with, and filled in with stone work; the church is now accessed via the Narthex, completed 1972. As well as being a good space for meeting and greeting people before a service, and serving refreshments after, the Narthex houses a men’s and disabled toilet (installed in 19??) and access to the choir vestry. The churches original stone font is now housed in the Narthex and used for decorative purposes only.

The original, and main part of the church, is accessed via modern fire resistant doors underneath the west gallery. There is a central aisle with oak pews on either side. At the front of the nave, on the west facing walls, are two plaques, listing the Ten Commandments. The two warden’s staffs, made of thin oak shafts, one with a mitre, and the other with a crown, both cast from brass, are kept at the end of pews at the rear of the church.

During the re-ordering of 19?? the pulpit and some of the foremost pews were removed to make way for the new organ consul, and to allow the choir pews to be relocated at the front of the nave, rather than in the chancel. The brass eagle lectern was relocated in the north east corner of the chancel, and a new wooden (oak?) lectern put in its place. This allows for a dais, which is variable in size, on which the altar is placed (movable towards the nave or the middle of the chancel depending on congregation size and place of gathering – nave or chancel). The communion rail is on the front of the dais. In the “Wagon” roofed chancel two of the choir pews remain (one on the north wall, the other on the south). Four new chairs (two with arms, two without), and two small tables, all made of oak made by…….. are placed at the east end of the chancel. The movable, modern metal font is stored beneath the east window when not in use, and placed at the front of the dais when it is. On the north wall of the chancel there is a fine marble?? monument to commemorate The Revd James Dunn, the 1st, and youngest, incumbent of the parish, who died in 1869. The bottom third of the east wall is decorated simply with moulded white painted plaster decorative arches on columns, with a light blue background. At the top of this is a shelf, on which a brass cross, and two candles are placed. The east window, depicting the Nativity, dominates the rest of the east wall.

There are six stained glass windows in the nave and 3 in the chancel, some by Kempe and Tower, others by F. Comere and Capronnier are fine examples of their work. The most recent window was installed in the chancel commemorating the fire of 19?? The West window is of simple geometric shaped coloured glass, as are the windows in the Narthex.

At the west end of the nave there is a gallery with blind arcaded parapet on cast-iron columns (accessed via the Narthex, adjacent to the tower).When the original pipe organ was replaced space became available to the north of the chancel of a side chapel. Its main function is that of a quiet area of church, accessible directly via a door to the graveyard if needed.

There is little furniture; a pew, an altar and a book of remembrance. This gives it a simple, uncluttered and dignified feel.

The vicar’s vestry is accessed via the side chapel.