"The Parish Church, St Matthew, stands on a bold and commanding eminence, and is approached from the head of High Street by a long flight of steps, the summit of which commands an extensive view of the town, as the streets descend from the churchyard very abruptly on every side, except the south. It is a large and handsome structure, which was nearly all rebuilt, except the tower and lofty spire, in 1821. The building is in the transition style of the 14th and 15th centuries, and the interior has a light appearance, the pillars, mullions of the windows, etc, being of cast iron. At the south west angle rises the massive tower, surmounted by a handsome spire, which was erected about 1775, when a set of eight bells were put up, the tenor weighing 23 cwt. The original church was a very ancient fabric, though it exhibited no trace of Saxon architecture. Many of its antique ornaments are still preserved in the new erection, and among them are seven stalls on each side of the chancel, the seats of which are ornamented with a great variety of grotesque figures, carved in basso-relievo. Under this part of the church is a remarkable cript of massy Gothic workmanship, forming a common passage through the eastern division of the churchyard. The nave is spacious, lofty, and neatly pewed, and the galleries are supported by very slender clustered iron columns, terminated by fine pointed arches. The large window at the west end was embellished by a beautiful stained glass figure of St Matthew, but it was blown out by an explosion of gas which had escaped under one of the pews, and killed the beadle, who accidently ignited it just after the congregation had left on October 10th, 1847. The churchyard having become much too small for the increased wants of the parish, the corporation in 1756 gave two acres of land on the south side of the town, and in the same year it was enclosed and consecrated as a new burial ground. The vicarage is in the patronage of the Earl of Bradford, and incumbency of the Rev JH Sharwood, M.A."[From History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, William White, Sheffield, 1851]
'Walsall Parish Church'
by John Hope Urwin
Published 1936, by SPCK, London.
'The Parish Church of St Matthew, Walsall, Staffordshire'
by Peter John Norris
Published 1961, by British Publishing Co, Gloucester.
St Luke's Mission Church, Selbourne Street, was consecrated on St Luke's Day, 18th October 1879, as a chapel of ease to St Matthew. The church was a plain structure of brick, with stone dressing, consisting of a sanctuary, nave, baptistery, and a turret containing one bell, with sittings for about 300 people. Following refurbishment the baptistry and turret have been removed and community rooms are now attached.
A view of St Matthew's Church (1).
A view of St Matthew's Church (2).
A view of St Matthew's Church (3).
A view of St Matthew's Church (4).
Church of England Registers
The parish register of the parish church of St Matthew commences in 1570. The original registers remain with the incumbent. A microfilm copy of the register for the period 1646-1965 (Bapts), 1663-1982 (Mar) & 1662-1678 & 1737-1985 (Bur) is held at Walsall Local History Centre and Staffordshire Record Office.
Bishops Transcripts, 1673-1858 (with gaps 1765-6 (Mar), 1831-35, & 1848-58 (Mar)) are deposited at Lichfield Record Office.
A transcript of the St Matthew registers for the period 1570-1649 by FW Willmore was published in 1890.
A transcript of the St Matthew registers for the periods (part 1) 1679-1837 (Bapts), and (part 2) 1662-1842 (Bur) & 1756-1812 (Burial Ground) has been published by the Birmingham & Midland SGH in two parts.
The original registers of the mission church of St Luke remain with the incumbent of St Matthew. A microfilm copy of the register for the period 1901-1935 (Bapts) is held by Staffordshire Record Office.
Nonconformist Church Registers
Records of Nonconformist churches in Walsall can be found on the Walsall page.
[Last updated: 28th May 2006, Mike Harbach. © 2001 - 2006]