The church, a Grade II* listed building in Victorian Gothic Revival style, was built by John Johnson II, financed by John Derby Allcroft of Stokesay Court, Shropshire, one of several London churches he also financed. It was completed in 1882, replacing an earlier church dating from 1818, and was built to house the huge congregation that flocked to hear the then incumbent, Archdeacon Hunter, who had recently returned from 23 years of missionary work with the Cree Indians of Northern Canada. Apart from the addition of the west gallery two years after its opening, it has remained largely unchanged since its original construction. At one stage it held seating for some 1400 people, although that is now slightly reduced.
Its soaring spire can be seen for miles around. The exceptional width of the nave makes it popular for weddings. The stained glass windows (two of which are from the Burne Jones studio), the carvings, the fine organ, clock and bells are much loved by the congregation and admired by our many visitors. It is currently arranged traditionally, with pews in the nave and handsome choir stalls in the small chancel before the high altar.
One of our greatest assets is the wonderful, newly restored organ built in 1913 by the firm of JW Walker & Sons, one of the great organ-making names. Ours is a very fine example of the English Romantic organ of the early years of the 20th century. The British Institute of Organ Studies awarded St. Matthew’s organ a certificate Grade II* in 2008 in recognition of it having survived unaltered.
Apart from its role in services, the organ is also available as a recital instrument. Jennifer Bate, the internationally acclaimed British concert organist and authority on Messaien, chose it on which to record a number of pieces for her Complete Works of Mendelssohn series.