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Walsall St Matthew

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"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]

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Bibliography

'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.

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Church History

St Matthew's church consists of a chancel, nave, aisles, transepts, organ chamber, and a tower, with spire, at the south-west angle, containing a clock and twelve bells, increased in 1929 from a peal of ten bells, of which eight were cast in 1775, on the erection of the spire, by Rudhall of Gloucester.  
The church was rebuilt in 1820, with the exception of the tower, spire and chancel, in the Transitional style of the 14th & 15th centuries from a design by Francis Goodwin. The chancel was restored by Ewen Christian in 1880, when a new oak roof was fixed, six large windows in the perpendicular style erected, and the east window was filled with stained glass in memory of Sister Dora, who died on Christmas Eve, 1878.  
There are other stained glass windows to the memory of H Brace, H Taylor, JF Crump and Mrs Wilkes. In 1915 a rood screen was erected by the bequest of Mrs Sarah Smyth to the memory of her parents.  
The oldest monument in the church is a recumbent effigy in 14th century armour of Sir Roger Hillary which dates from 1399 and is now rather worn and mutilated.  
A wall monument holds a medallion bust of William Purvis, a Walsall soldier who served in the 17th Lancers for 24 years, who was one of the small band of survivers of the Charge of the Light Brigade 

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 c1960 (1). 
A view of St Matthew's Church (2). 
A view of St Matthew's Church (3). 
Postcard of St Matthew's Church c1909

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Church Records

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.

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Description & Travel

A transcription of the section on Walsall St Matthew from A Topographical History of Staffordshire by William Pitt (1817)

You can see pictures of Walsall St Matthew which are provided by:

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Gazetteers

The transcription of the section for Walsall St Matthew from the Topographical Dictionary of England (1859)

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Historical Geography

You can see the administrative areas in which Walsall St Matthew has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.

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Maps

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SP014987 (Lat/Lon: 52.586104, -1.980769), Walsall St Matthew which are provided by:

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Names, Personal

A list of vicars of  Walsall St Matthew to 1813 from A Directory of Walsall by Thomas Pearce (1813)