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's CofE Primary School, situated next door to the church; a North Chadderton School, also opposite; 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. 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.
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 toilet, disabled toilet 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.
Although the exterior suggests 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 several re-orderings of the church. The first 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 original pipe organ could not be salvaged and was replaced by an electronic two manual organ built by Makin. The second re-ordering in 2016 was a major undertaking. The choir stalls were moved back to their rightful place in the 'wagon' roofed chancel and the eagle was moved back to the north-east end of the nave. The dated pine pews in the nave were replaced with a combination of upholstered stained ash pews and chairs allowing for the nave to be a versatile space for the various activities of the church and to be let out to the local community. The organ was moved back to its original position in the chancel and a new custom Viscount Envoy 33 Series was comissioned which was a fine addition to the church. On the north wall of the chancel there still remains a monument to commemorate The Revd James Dunn, the first and youngest incumbent of the parish, who died in 1869. The choir vestry and narthex were both upgraded and modernised with the walls throughout re-decorated in cream and the east wall in green. The bottom third of the east wall still retains its moulded white painted plaster decorative arches on columns. The window arches were also re-painted grey which complements the overall asthetic of the church.
There are six stained glass windows in the nave and three 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. 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.