St Matthias


St Matthias’ was built in Element Place, Sneinton. The foundation stone was laid in June 1867. In a cavity beneath the stone a bottle was buried containing English coins of the time and a parchment bearing the words:

The ceremonial stone of this church, built to the glory of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, and dedicated to St Matthias the Apostle, was laid on June 8th 1867, by the Rt Hon Sydney William Herbert, Earl Manvers; the Rt Revd John Jackson DD, Lord Bishop of Lincoln; Wm Hindes Wyatt MA, Vicar of Sneinton and Rural Dean; Nathan Pratt and John Webster, churchwardens; J C Hine and R Evans, architects; J E Hall, builder.

The church cost £3,000 and had seating for 300 people. Earl Manvers had given the land for the church and £500; £50 was given by the Bishop; £1,000 had been raised at a bazaar in the old Nottingham Exchange and various sums were collected in other ways. The building was consecrated as a chapel of ease in the parish of St Stephen Sneinton by the Bishop of Lincoln on 6 May 1868.

The first plans of the church show that it was intended to have a tower. However, the costs were too great and a bellcote was built instead surmounting the west gable with space for three bells, although only one was ever installed.

The walls were of Bulwell stone and the interior was of red brick interspersed with black-brick bands and panelling. The ceiling was of plaster, richly decorated and embellished. Unfortunately during the latter part of the nineteenth century the ceiling began to decay and the present wooden ceiling was installed to cover the crumbling plaster.

The double window in the south transept was installed in 1904 in memory of Miss Woolley who was head of both the Church Day Schools and the Sunday Schools.

In 1913, the north light in the east end of the church was dedicated in memory of the Revd R M Howard (Vicar 1904-1912), followed by the installation of a new organ. The double window in the north transept depicting SS Hugh and Matthias, and in memory of the Revd G R Hutton was installed, as was the present south light in the east window, in memory of Eric and Lilian Cousins, the family of a former headmaster of the Church Day Schools.

Electric lighting was installed in 1934, replacing the gas system. The font was moved temporarily away from the west doors.

As a result of enemy action in 1941 the church was badly damaged; the sacristy was destroyed, the apsidal wall was badly cracked, the organ was damaged and many windows broken. The church was saved by the Vicar (the Revd F L F Rees), a part-time air warden. Armed with a stirrup pump, he dashed to the scene and saw an incendiary bomb blazing away in the roof. He waited for the bomb to burn its way through and fall into the nave. He then doused the flames with the pump.

An electric blower was fixed to the organ in 1948 in memory of Eric Mason.

The church was repaired in 1956, at which time the Lady Chapel Altar was moved westwards to stand in the south chancel arch. A new stone floor was laid in the chancel and sanctuary and the choir stalls moved from the chancel to the nave.

In 1957 a holy water stoup was placed at the west end of the church and a statue of Our Lady of Walsingham was given in memory of Lucy Meenan.

In 1960 a Requiem Altar was placed in the north chancel arch and in 1962 the choir vestry was moved from the west end of the church to a position behind the Lady Chapel Altar, where it had originally been located. At the same time the font was moved to its present location and a statue of St Matthias was given by Mr and Mrs Truman to mark twenty years of married life.

The church’s three altars are all made of stone and contain relics of SS Vincent and Victorinus Mm. All three were consecrated, the relics sealed in, and the altar-stones and joints anointed by the Rt Revd Morris Gelsthorpe, Assistant Bishop of Southwell. The Requiem Altar, dedicated to St Joseph the Worker, was consecrated in December 1960, and was built in memory of the Revd Mr Tomlinson, Vicar 1912-31, and Ethel Staton. The ornaments were given in memory of Herbert and Bryan Line. A statue of St Joseph the Worker was carved by Mr Rose. The High Altar was consecrated in 1963, and in 1964 the Lady Chapel Altar was consecrated in memory of Leonard Mills.

In 1961 the fourteen Stations of the Cross were affixed and blessed. In 1962 a statue of St Peter was brought to the church on closure of St Peter’s Church, Hucknall and in 1968 a statue of the Sacred Heart was given in memory of Lily Green.

The roof coverings were renewed in 1966 and a number of improvements were made in 1968 in the church’s centenary year. Running water was installed in the vestry; an inner porch was erected inside the south door in memory of William Mason, churchwarden for 43 years and organist for 58 years.

During the late 1960s as part of the redevelopment of the St Ann’s area it was proposed that the church be demolished along with those of St Batholomew, St Ann, St Catherine and Emmanuel. The Vicar at the time, the Revd Mr Bennett, fought hard publicly to save the building, which he achieved.

Unfortunately in more recent years St Matthias’ has been in decline. Following the departure of the Revd Mr Smith as Vicar in 2002 the church struggled to continue as a place of worship and after an attack of vandalism over Easter 2003 the church was boarded up for six months with no services being held. It was announced at the service held on 16th October 2003 that the church was to close for good and redundancy procedures commence.