Duddeston, Nechells, Vauxhall

St Matthew

St Matthew's Church was built in 1840 to cater for residents of the expanding town of Birmingham who lived in the Parish of Aston. The first of five churches built by the Birmingham Church Building Society, it became a parish church in 1842. 


Image from Ted & Jen's Bloomsbury Walk 2008 on flickr reusable under Creative Commons Licence Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) - http://www.flickr.com/photos/tedandjen/2915031215/in/set-72157607638248277/.


St Matthew's Church Website

St Matthew's now forms part of the Parish of Aston & Nechells. For the Parish website see http://www.astonnechellscofe.org.uk/.

For some information about St Matthew's see http://www.astonnechellscofe.org.uk/history_stmatthews.

See also A Church near You - http://www.achurchnearyou.com/nechells-st-matthew/.


You might also be interested in - A History of Birmingham Places & Placenames . . . from A to Y Duddeston - http://billdargue.jimdo.com/placenames-gazetteer-a-to-y/places-d/duddeston/.


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Above: Map of Birmingham from ‘The Royal Atlas of England and Wales’ produced by J G Bartholomew for George Newnes Ltd 1898. Image courtesy of the Mapseeker website - http://www.mapseeker.co.uk/ - use permitted for non-commercial purposes.

St Matthew's in the Wilderness

St Matthew's in 1840 - image from Graham Knight's Birmingham Old Prints Facebook page
St Matthew's in 1840 - image from Graham Knight's Birmingham Old Prints Facebook page

St Matthew’s Church was the first of five churches built by the Birmingham Church Building Society.


Aston, being such an extensive parish, had always found it difficult to cater for outlying townships.


The problem became more acute during the late 18th and early 19th centuries as urban Birmingham expanded into Aston’s rural parish. In 1838 the Birmingham Church Building Society was founded whose object was to build ten new churches in the urbanising Rural Deanery of Central Birmingham, parts of which, including Duddeston & Nechells, lay in the Parish of Aston. The Society was usually known as the Ten Churches Fund.


When the church was built in 1840, there was so little housing development around it at the time that it was nicknamed St Matthew's in the Wilderness. The red-brick building with stone dressings was designed in a simple gothic style by William Thomas (1799-1860) and comprised a small chancel, nave, and embattled tower with a tall slender spire, since taken down.

The chancel
The chancel

Thomas had lived for a time in Birmingham and but later worked mainly in Leamington where, amongst many other projects, he built the Royal Pump Rooms. St Matthew’s is designed in a simple interpretation of the Early English and Decorated Gothic styles.


The nave's north and south windows are simple tall lancets, those of the tower and the east and west ends are in decorated style.


The plan became the basis of many churches that Thomas was later to become well-known for in Canada. It marks an important stage in the revival of gothic ecclesiastical architecture in Birmingham, the more so now because, unlike many of its contemporaries, it survived the inner-city demolition of the 1960s. 

Chatwin's south gallery of 1866
Chatwin's south gallery of 1866


Images above, right and below are the copyright of David Fisher from his blog, Brummages.. (or What Is It Like Now?)  and used with his kind permission. For reuse contact David Fisher. 


A parish was created for St Matthew’s out of that of St Peter and St Paul's Aston in 1842.


In 1866 galleries were added by J A Chatwin bringing the number of seats up to 1300. The church building was repaired and restored in 1883. 


In 1951 a united benefice was formed by the union of St Anne’s Duddeston, St Catherine’s Nechells, and St Lawrence’ with that of St Matthew’s, which churches had originally been given parishes from that of St Matthew’s. All have subsequently been demolished. 


The east end of the church showing the entrance built in 1994
The east end of the church showing the entrance built in 1994

Serious structural problems became apparent in the 1990s. The Ten Churches Fund had never managed to raise as much money as was necessary to build churches as substantially as they would have liked. This may be the reason for the problems which surfaced at this time.


A major project was undertaken which entailed converting the west end of the church into offices and a business centre, while creating a worship area within a building with multiple community uses.


250 worshippers can be seated in the east end of the building which was rededicated in 1994.


In 2008 the parishes of St Peter & St Paul Aston, St James Aston and St Matthew’s were joined together as the new parish of Aston & Nechells. 



Acknowledgement - See British History Online - Victoria County History of Warwick Volume 7 The City of Birmingham ed. W B Stevens 1964 - http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=22976.


For more information on architect, William Thomas see the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online - http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?BioId=38339.


All the gravestones surviving in 2007 were photographed by David Fisher and are available on his blog, Brummages . .  (or What Is It Like Now?) - http://brummages.blogspot.com/. The gravestones date from 1847 to 1957. It is likely that no further burials took place here much after 1957. See http://brummages.blogspot.com/2007_01_01_archive.html. For internal views of the church see http://brummages.blogspot.com/2008_05_01_archive.html.


See also Ted & Jen's Bloomsbury Walk 2008 on flickr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/tedandjen/2915031215/in/set-72157607638248277/ 


and John Knight's 2011 photos on the Birmingham History Forum - http://forum.birminghamhistory.co.uk/showthread.php?t=35902.


This is a Grade II listed building whose record can be found on the


Historic England website - https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1211418 


William Dargue 12.04.2011