La Rue de la Ville au Bas, St Peter, Jersey, Channel Islands
Imposing granite church of 1872, in French thirteenth century Gothic style by Frangeul, architect of St Thomas’ church, St Helier. Handsome vaulted interior, with west tribune gallery. The church forms the centrepiece of an important group of historic buildings, built to serve the needs of the scattered population of French Catholics on the west side of the Island.
St Matthew’s was established by Fr Volkeryck, rector at St Thomas’ church in St Helier, and was intended to serve the scattered population of French Catholics on the west side of the island. The foundation stone for the present church was laid on 23 May 1871, and the church was opened on 4 September 1872 in the presence of Bishop Danell of Southwark and Bishop Fournier of Rennes. The architect was Alfred Frangeul of St Malo (later also the architect of St Thomas’ church, St Helier) and the builders Blampied & Holloway. The church is dedicated to St Matthew, in honour of Matthew de Gruchy, the Jersey priest martyred at Nantes in 1797.
At first the church was served from St Thomas’s, but in 1882 Bishop Vertue entrusted the mission to the French Oblates. In 1884 the Dames de St Andre took charge of the girls’ school, while later on the boys’ school was run by two oblate brothers.
In 1919 the diocese established this mission, and all the missions on the Island, as parishes. In 1952 the Anglo-Irish Province of the Oblates took over the running of the parish until 1981, when diocesan clergy assumed responsibility.
Church in French thirteenth century Gothic revival style. Built of granite rubble with a slate roof. Nave, transepts, chancel, western integral tower and spire.
Exterior: West front has central gabled entrance with carved tympanum, paired lancets and oculus above, tower with lancet louvres and lucarnes, spire surmounted by stone cross. Narrow high-level lancet windows to the three bays of the nave, the bays marked by separate buttresses; a side entrance in the central bay on the north side. Short transepts with angles buttresses and paired lancets in the north and south gable elevations. To the east of this one bay with a sexfoil roundel on each side over the side chapels, lancets to the canted bays of the east end.
Interior: The nave is of three bays, with the lower third of the wall exposed painted rubble. Above this a cornice, and pilasters dividing each bay, from which spring quadripartite plastered groin vaults. Transverse arches and giant pilasters frame the crossing. The transepts and east end are also vaulted. There is a gallery across the west end and above and behind this a raised tribune with three arched openings.
Furnishings: Nineteenth century French stained glass, some figurative and some of geometrical/foliage design, designer and manufacturer not established. White marble altar, with central carved frontal depicting Last Supper moved forward to allow for westward celebration. Lady Chapel in south chapel, Resurrection Chapel to north. Fairly plain pine pews in nave.
The church is listed Grade 3 by the States of Jersey. Further details here:
Architect: Alfred Frangeul
Original Date: 1871
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Other