Building » Matlock – Our Lady and St Joseph

Matlock – Our Lady and St Joseph

Bank Road, Matlock, Derbyshire DE4 3NG

  • Parish website

A modest Gothic Revival church of the 1880s, built of local stone, with later additions and alterations. The side chapel had an unusual dedication to St Dismas, the ‘Good Thief’. The church lies within the Matlock Bank Conservation Area.

A mission was established at Matlock in 1880 by Mgr McKenna, and a temporary chapel set up in a private residence in Holt Lane. The present site for a church and presbytery was acquired at the end of 1881 and the foundation stone of the church laid by the Bishop of Nottingham in September 1882 and the church was opened by the bishop in July 1883. The Tablet (21 July 1883) described the building:

‘The new church is Gothic in design, and consists of nave, porch, side chapel, and vestry. It has seat accommodation for 200 persons, and when funds are collected the chancel, tower, and spire will be erected. The windows are of cathedral tinted glass. Over the high altar is a splendid stained glass window of the Madonna and Child.

The church is beautifully situated in Bank-road, and commands an extensive view of the most picturesque scenery in Derbyshire. It is dedicated to Our Lady and St Joseph, with an oratory or side chapel to St Dismas, the “Good Thief”. Over the altar of the side chapel is a beautiful stained glass window of the Crucifixion, eight feet high. The scene on Calvary is vividly represented in the three large and nearly life-size figures of our Lord and the two thieves fastened to the crosses. In the background is a view of Jerusalem and the Temple. The “Good Thief” has his face turned to Jesus, as if seeking peace and consolation from Him before death, while the “Bad Thief” has his face turned away from our Lord with an expression of aversion and scorn for “Jesus of Nazareth.” The effect is very striking on the mind of the spectator. The window is much admired, and is the gift of a generous benefactor. This is the second chapel raised in England to the honour of the “Good Thief,” the other being attached to the Church of St Mary’s, Leeds, under the Fathers of Mary Immaculate, who have the privilege of reciting the Office of the “Bonus Latro.” The Bishop made an earnest appeal to the congregation present to aid the zealous priests of Derby in clearing off the debt of £200 on the building fund, and enable them to add the chancel, and build a presbytery soon, that a resident priest might be appointed to the mission’.

It appears that Mgr McKenna financed the construction (The Tablet, 26 October 1901). The builder was B. Askew of Matlock and the architect E. Fryer of Derby (possibly Edward Fryer, architect and land surveyor, who is at Mill Hill Road, St Werburgh Derby in the 1881 census, although he died aged 30 in April 1883). The presbytery was built in 1896, the chancel in 1903, the tower and spire never achieved. The chancel was extended with an apse in 1933/34, at the time of the church’s Golden Jubilee, when new furnishings, including a stone altar with richly carved reredos and pulpit (by Boulton & Co.), stained glass windows and Stations of the Cross were also installed. This work was done by Fr Cyril Restieaux, later Bishop of Plymouth. The church was consecrated by Bishop McNulty in June 1935. A parish hall was built in 1967, and the church liturgically reordered in 1969 (architects Smith & Roper). Recent work has included the rebuilding of the parish hall in 2001 by the architects Evans Vettori, a modern reinterpretation of the design of All Saints’ Hassop.


The church is of local rock-faced stone in a fairly simple Gothic style of broadly Early English inspiration. The building consists of a nave and north transeptal chapel, with a sanctuary (1903, extended 1933) in matching style and materials. The outwardly modest appearance of the building belies the attractive, light and spacious character of the interior. The nave has a decorative open timber roof, and there are chancel and sanctuary arches of stone. The altar and reredos is an elaborately carved piece in Gothic style with canopied niches, cresting and traceried detailing by Boulton & Co. The forward altar is simply treated, of local stone. Bench seating is of 1930s date, in traditional style with Gothic detailing. The transeptal chapel is separated from the main body of the church by a stone arcade with two piers. Originally dedicated to St Dismas, this is now a Lady Chapel, with a late twentieth century hardwood reredos and simple stone altar. It retains its large Crucifixion window, described above. Other stained glass of various dates between circa 1930 and circa 1950 is of traditional design.

Entry amended by AHP 29.01.2021

Heritage Details

Architect: E. Fryer

Original Date: 1883

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed