The first church of St Matthew in Upper Clapton was built in 1866 and was a temporary iron church: one of 13 Victorian church plants from St John at Hackney. The foundation stone of the permanent church was laid on 21 September 1867 and consecrated a year and a half later. The architect Francis Dollman was praised for designing this landmark building on a commanding site. The interior of the church included mosaics, delicate carving, metalwork and stained glass by prominent designers.
Church attendance at St Matthews in 1886 was 866 on Sunday mornings and 806 in the evening; this attendance was the highest in Hackney after St John at Hackney.
In the 1950s, St Matthew’s church was restored after war damage. The spire was demolished in 1962.
In the early 70s, the parish of St Matthew entered into a group ministry with St Thomas, Stamford Hill and St Michael and All Angels, Stoke Newington Common. In January 1977, the St Matthew’s church building was declared redundant after being badly damaged by fire. The church hall was subsequently converted into the new church building and the parish became a plurality with St Thomas’ church, Stamford Hill. St Matthew’s kept its own PCC and registers but shared the vicar of St Thomas’. The old church had a fine peal of 8 bells that were removed following the fire and are now at Watton-at-Stone, Hertfordshire.
[1977 – present day: details coming soon.]
Our Reader, Roma Weston has written a ‘History of the Role of St Matthew’s Parish Church’ which describes her research and perceptions of the life of St Matthew’s over the past 100 years. It is available here: Roma’s history of St Matthew’s.