Building » Norwood (West) – St Matthew

Norwood (West) – St Matthew

Norwood High Street, Norwood, London SE27

An Ellis church of 1904-05, much altered and added to over the years. The single most important feature in architectural and artistic terms is the statue of St Matthew on the west front, by Eric Gill’s assistant Joseph Cribb.

St Matthew’s was one of many churches in the diocese built in the first decade of the twentieth century through the benefaction of Miss Frances Ellis. The building was probably designed by F. W. Tasker (Survey of London), and opened on 30 March 1905. In 1920 the mission was elevated to the status of the parish.

The church has undergone a number of transmogrifications:

  • In 1937 it was lengthened by two bays at the east end, matching the original work.
  • Following wartime bomb damage the church was rebuilt at the west end in 1949-50, from designs by D Plaskett Marshall.
  • In 1972 the interior of the church was reorientated, so that the altar was located on the north side of the church rather than at the east end; this work involved removal of the some of the piers in the aisle. The architect for this work was W Stone.
  • In 1984 a new entrance narthex was built alongside the long south elevation, from designs by Derek Phillips. A new parish hall was also added to the east.
  • From the early 1990s a series of stained glass windows to various saints and martyrs were commissioned from Andrew Taylor of Devizes.


The church is built of brick, plum coloured at the west end and London stock for the earlier work; all under a slate roof. The style is a loose version of Romanesque. In the 1970s its liturgical orientation was turned around by 90 degrees, so that the sanctuary is now located in a widened opening half way up the church in the north aisle, and the seating is arranged east-west, facing north. A narthex along the south wall was added in 1984.

The west front of 1949-50 faces the street, and is in plum-coloured stock brick with red brick dressings. It is gabled, with a giant central archway with recessed orders of brickwork, enclosing a smaller pair of round-arched windows. Between these is a stone statue of St Matthew by Joseph Cribb, Eric Gill’s assistant. The flank elevations have the paired clerestory windows (renewed in uPVC) that are seen in a number of Tasker’s Ellis churches; in front of this is the long narthex, with a lean-to roof and three central shallow gables, the outer ones of which contain the entrances.

The focus of the interior is now on the north side, where the sanctuary has been placed between a widened opening in the former north aisle. The interior has been much altered, with new openings at arcade level, and a suspended ceiling concealing the (probably king-post) roof. There is a series of stained glass windows in the windows behind the altar, by Andrew Taylor and dating from the 1990s. The font (1986), ambo (1989) and altar (1992) are all of the same grey polished marble.

Heritage Details

Architect: F. W. Tasker; D. Plaskett Marshall

Original Date: 1904

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed