St Matthew's Church
Blackmoor and Whitehill
Here you will find an online version of our 'church guide' which was designed to be read whilst walking round the church. Even if you are not in the church, you will still find this interesting information.
This short guide was compiled with the valuable assistance of Mrs. Sally Maltby, who researched the 'beginnings' of St. Matthew's, and supplied the technical descriptions used. She in turn acknowledges the contribution of Mr. R. Hubbuck in connection with the designers of the stained glass.
St. Matthew's was built by Sir Roundell Palmer, (pictured) made Lord chancellor in 1872, previously a valued Member of the House of Commons. The building replaced a wayside chapel close by. He wrote the following words, to be used as a memorial to this little house of worship:
"Here in past days, ere yonder House of God Rose in due state, a humble chapel stood. Trees of the Lord, in every season green, Shall guard its memory with their leafy screen. Blest, though not walking in our fathers' ways, The men who woke the wilderness to praise!"
Regretfully, it is believed that this memorial was never created.
Sir Roundell took the title Earl of Selborne. The family still lives in the District, much involved in the Blackmoor Estates, in farming and fruit growing and storage. The present Earl continues the family responsibilities regarding the Parish - he is Patron of the Living.
In the year 1866 Sir Roundell Palmer moved into his newly acquired estate comprising Blackmoor and Temple. The area was moorland, with some very fine oak trees, mention of which you will find in Gilbert White's 'Natural History of Selborne'. A Roman road had once passed right through the area, and a Romano-British Settlement had been sited here also, evidence for this having been uncovered when the ground was being prepared for the various buildings erected in the 19th. Century. When Sir Roundell arrived there was a small 'independent' chapel in the area, used it seems as a chapel-of-ease by the parish (Selborne, St. Mary). On Sundays the family would travel across to Selborne for morning worship, and walk to Greatham for Evensong. After discussion with the Vicar of Selborne he resolved to build a church in Blackmoor, to become a new Parish Church for this district. He chose to build the church, vicarage, cottages, and schools before starting work on his own house. The architect he chose was Alfred Waterhouse. The London Gazette of 4th. November 1867 published the details of the new Parish of Blackmoor. The church building was finally consecrated on 18th May 1869.
The Cost of the Building
The First Earl kept careful records of all the costs involved in the creation of this House of Prayer: it amounted in all to £10,749.10s.11d.
Stained glass windows were added at certain times as memorials. The oak screen was put in to mark the Diamond Jubilee in 1897. In 1899 the Lych Gate was added, designed by F.L. Pearson.
This church guide:
Written and Edited by the Reverend R.J. Inkpen.
Copyright (c) Blackmoor P.C.C. 1990.
Revised by the Reverend Will Hughes 2007