Matson - St Augustine of Canterbury

Matson Lane, Matson, Gloucester, Gloucestershire GL4

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Built just before the Second Vatican Council, to a traditional plan and with modern construction techniques, to serve a post-war housing estate. Typical of its date, the church is notable above all for its fine collection of dalle de verre glass by the Whitefriars and Prinknash Abbey studios.

 

The building of the Matson housing estate began in 1946 and the first Mass was celebrated here six years later on 21 December 1952. Before the construction of the church Mass was said in the canteen of Laings, the builders. After they left, the community centre in Redwell Road was used and later, when this was not available, the skittle alley of The Musket public house. Fundraising for the church began in earnest in the late 1950s and a site was purchased from the City Council in January 1960. The church, of concrete portal frame construction was planned to accommodate 256 people, at a cost of about £32,000. The architect was a parishioner, Egbert Leah, who is commemorated on a plaque at the west end. The builders were Brennan Bros of Gloucester. The foundation stone was laid on 22 February 1962 with the first Mass celebrated some seven months later on 30 September. The parish was formally established on 5 June 1974 and a parish hall built in 1982. The church was dedicated on 27 May 1988, when the side chapel for reservation of the Blessed Sacrament was inaugurated. Today the church is joined with the parish of Tuffley (qv), together known as the Robinswood Hill parishes.

The church was built in 1962 from designs by Egbert Leah of Gloucester. It has concrete portal framing and is faced with buff bricks with concrete dressings, under a steeply-pitched tile roof. It is built to a traditional longitudinal plan with a nave with narrow passage aisles, projecting sanctuary, an apsidal baptistery (now the Lady Shrine) at the southwest corner, and a chapel south of the sanctuary. At the main entrance there is a flat-roofed narthex, and above this five lancet windows in the west gable, their heads following the pitch of the verges of the roof. In the former baptistery the window heads are canted.

The narthex leads into a light airy interior, the concrete portal framing expressed and marking the bay divisions. A five-sided ‘arch’ of crushed Portland stone and white cement marks the division between the nave and sanctuary. The glazing is particularly notable. At the west end is a tall (leaded) dalle de verre window depicting St Augustine by Pierre Fourmaintraux of the James Powell & Sons Whitefriars Studio. There is also dalle de verre glass of 1988-90 by Brother Gilbert Taylor of Prinknash (cf. Churchdown church). His are the small square panels in the former baptistery which give this space a dark, dramatic quality. The glass in the aisles is by Jim Budd, 1990-91. The fine crucifix at the east end was carved by Patrick Conoley of Boulton Brothers of Cheltenham (who had also provided the altars, font, lectern and cantor’s desk). Conoley also carved the front of the figure of Our Lady in the Lady Shrine.

Diocese: Clifton

Architect: William & Egbert Leah of Gloucester

Original Date: 1962

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed