Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: February 11, 2018
Webpage updated: April 07, 2021




The Anglican Church of Saint Matthew was situated in Clarence Place, opposite the former Royal Naval Hospital at East Stonehouse, Plymouth.

The Earl of Mount Edgcumbe, who donated the site, laid the foundation stone of Saint Matthew's on Tuesday October 14th 1873.  It was the second of the many new buildings planned by the Three Towns' Church Extension Society.

Mr H J Snell, of Courtenay Street, Plymouth, designed the Church in the Geometrical or Early Decorated style of architecture.  It consists of a nave, north and south aisles, chancel, vestry, organ chamber, a north-west porch and a baptistery on the south-west side.  It could accommodate about 730 worshippers. 

The building is of dark limestone, with dressings of Bath and Portland stone.  The stained glass window at the eastern end is by Mr Fouracre, of Plymouth.  The Portland stone font was made by Mr Harry Hems, of Exeter.  Mr H B McMillan, of Plymouth, was the contractor, whose clerk of works was Mr John W Trevan, of Gibbon Street, Plymouth.  The plastering was by Mr Antony Lethbridge, the painting and staining was done by Mr William Beer, and Mr Westlake did the gas fittings.  All those were from Plymouth.  The cost was stated variously to be 5,000 or 6,000.

Saint Matthew's Church was consecrated by the Bishop of Exeter on Thursday December 16th 1875 and the ecclesiastical parish was formed on July 25th 1876. 

The first vicar was a Mr Walter A Prideaux.  When he started his work at Saint Matthew's the number of children attending Sunday School was just about thirty.  The School was then held in a former shop in Battery Street, which was said to be 'incommodious and badly-lighted and ventilated'.  By 1884 there were 350 children on the School register, with Bible classes being held in the vestry of the Church and the Infants' School held in the Church itself.  Work started early in 1884 to construct a new Parochial Schools and Mission Hall on a site at Battery Quarries donated by the Lord of the Manor, the Earl of Mount Edgcumbe.  His Lordship had already given the site of the Church, valued at 1,500, and he had now provided the site for the new premises, valued at a further 500.

Plans were drawn up by Mr H J Snell, architect, and the cost of construction, fitting out and furnishing the building was anticipated to be over 2,000.    The building was constructed of limestone with Portland stone dressings.  On the ground floor was to be the Infants' schoolroom and six or seven class-rooms.  The whole of the top floor, measuring 60 feet by 40 feet, would be one large room.  In addition a reading-room was left to be added when finance allowed.  On a damp Monday December 1st 1884 the congregation and friends met to see the first Memorial Stone laid by Mrs C Bulteel, in lieu of her husband, who was unable to be present, and the second Memorial Stone laid by the Right Honourable the Earl of Mount Edgcumbe.  Both were duly presented with silver trowels.  The contractors were Messrs Lethbridge and May and the Band of the Royal Marines assisted by providing a brass quartette to support the children in their hymn singing.  The ceremony was naturally followed by a public luncheon in the Saint George's Hall.

The Parochial Schools and Mission Hall were officially opened by the Earl of Mount Edgcumbe on Tuesday April 14th 1885.