St Matthew's Church

Blackmoor and Whitehill


The building.

The building was erected running exactly east-west, as is traditional, so that the altar is in the east, from where the sun, the light of the world, rises. Local pale grey malm stone was used, quarried near Selborne. The stone used for the dressings and quoins was the fine grained Bath Stone.


As you enter the church via the west door look at the plaque on the right (south) wall. (Pictured here). This commemorates the consecration of this House of God, on Whit Tuesday, 18th May 1869, 'built by a parishioner'.


Also on the south side is a door. This is the only access to the tower above you, in which are housed our ring of six bells and the church clock.


Access was originally via the porch on the south, the west doors being there for special occasions. An oak screen was erected to cut the draughts from the entrance - the building is open to considerable winds from the Prevailing Southwest and West. This screen was to mark Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. You will find a small plaque recording this on the screen which now lies between the tower and nave - still doing the draught proofing for which it was originally intended. Its move during the 1970s was part of a re-ordering of the west end, in which the south porch became a toilet and kitchen area, the south, doors being moved to the southern extremity of the porch, fresh oak being used to separate kitchen from nave - the West Doors then became the main entrance. The area under the tower became a porch.

Although the church was very much a complete work of creation, everything included, bells and all, within a year or so, provision was made against the need one day to extend: if you look up the church towards the altar you will see that the north and south walls are NOT identical. The north wall has arches, so-that another aisle could be added without affecting the strength of the north wall and its support of a very big roof.


As you enter the nave, notice a unity of design in the simple geometrical shapes and explicit construction of all the elements, from floor to roof.


THE FONT (pictured right) is immediately to your left as you move into the nave, it is placed near the door to remind us that by baptism we enter 'the Church, the People of God'. The stone used here is Purbeck marble (one piece), with columns of Derbyshire marble and fossil stone from the Isle of Purbeck.


Under the carpeting (added to assist warmth and quiet) are red and black diamond shaped tiles.


THE PULPIT (pictured left) stands at the end of the nave, on the left. This also stands on a plinth built of Purbeck marble. Opposite it on the right is THE LECTERN, from which the Bible is read.


Walk up the chancel steps into the choir. If light allows have a look at some of the wrought iron work both to either side of the steps and also in the choir's candle stands, where a 'daffodil' motif is used.


The paneling in the chancel, and the reredos (behind the altar) were put in as a memorial to the first Earl and Countess of Selborne and other members of the Palmer family, the panels in 1905, the carved reredos in 1917. The figures in the latter are, from left to right, St. John the Apostle, The Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of Our Lord, The Victory of the Cross, St. Mary of Magdala. (first witness of the Resurrection), and St. Matthew the Apostle (Patron Saint of this church).


The Original reredos was an uncarved slab, inlaid with different marbles, the cross in the centre of pure white marble. This reredos was transferred to the Mission Church of St. Mary Magdalene, Oakhanger (in this parish until 1927).

THE ORGAN (pictured right) is by Bevingtons of London. As organs go this is small - it has one manual (keyboard) with permanently coupled pedal board, and mechanical action. Originally hand pumped, it is now provided with an electric blower. It has eight stops - 16', 8' and 4'. Six of the banks of pipes are within a swell box.


Records show that on 18th May 1869 it was played by none less than Mr. W.H. Monk, composer and Editor of Hymns Ancient and Modern.

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