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A BRIEF GUIDE TO ST. MATTHEW’S CHURCH HASLINGTON
The Parish Church, dedicated to St. Matthew, stands in the centre of the village. Its origin is of a very early date, although there is some controversy about the exact date because reference books on the subject differ. It was originally referred to as a “Chapelry”
The First Chapel, Waterloo Road c1302
The original Haslington Hall was built on a site in Waterloo Road in the 1200s and probably had a domestic chapel built by the Vernon Family for the ease of themselves and their tenants. According to Bishop Gatrell, a noted Historian, “The Hall of Haslington with the Chapel and all other buildings thereto belonging were licenced for a meeting in AD1302.” Omerod gives a list of chaplains of Haslington Chapel from 1302. The Parish records go back to 1645. They record baptisms and marriages. The earliest were written in Latin. Records were also kept of donations to National Calamities, such as, fires, floods or pestilence in such places as Cambridge, Blackburn and Morpeth.
Haslington Chapel c1500 – 1810
Haslington Hall was rebuilt on its present site when Sir Frances Vernon returned home from the Spanish Armada. He used materials from three wings of the Old Hall along with woodwork salvaged from wrecked Spanish galleons to construct the Hall, which today stands a mile east of the village. St. Matthew’s Church was also built in half-timber from materials reclaimed from the Old Hall. The style of the first church was that of a traditional black and white Cheshire Church of the 1500s. The houses round it were in the same style and there is still a neighbouring cottage dated 1510. This church remained for 150 years of worship until it was replaced in 1810. Tradition says that the church burnt down, but there is no available written evidence to confirm this. Omerod says “An ancient chapel of timber and plaster was taken down a few years ago (mid 1800s) and its site has been occupied by a modern building…”
The Vernon Chapel became famous as a dissenting preaching house. The second incumbent, Joseph Cope, was ejected from Sandbach in 1662 soon after The “Revolution” and became installed in Haslington. He kept up a very considerable congregation until he died aged 83 years.
In 1704 the Vernons renewed their association with mainstream Anglicanism
The Church 1810 - 1910
In the early 1800s the ancient chapel of timber and plaster was declared to be “so dilapidated as to be almost ruinous” and was pulled down. It was rebuilt, at his sole expense, by the Rev. Sir Thomas Broughton of Doddington Hall, who was the local Landowner and minister of the Chapel.
The new church was a plain Georgian brick building with a nave and a western turret with a white wooden bellcote. The eastern window contained specimens of ancient painted glass from Doddington Hall. The Cheshire Directory of 1864 refers to the window as “curious old glass said to be the oldest in the district.”
This 16th Century glass was sold in 1910 to help pay for the new Chancel.”It is much broken and pieced and it will be impossible to insert in the New East Window.” (Faculty number 1152)
The church built in 1810 is referred to in several documents as being restored or rebuilt at various dates. Bispham’s Directory (1850) says..”the structure underwent a complete reparation in 1848. The living is endowed with £20 per annum a perpetual curacy augmented with £200 benefaction, £200 Queen Anne’s Bounty and £1143 Parliamentary Grant.”
When the church was rebuilt in 1810 it was stated that there was no evidence that the old chapel had been consecrated. The old Chapel was closed in 1810 and the new one consecrated on 15th November 1811 by the bishop of Chester.
Haslington was part of the Parish of Barthomley and there is a letter dated 1689 asking for Haslington to become a Parish. It became a district in1860 and a parish in 1870. In the letter of 1689 it was recorded that the curate was paid £20 p.a
The Church Today
The Church is a place of light. The high East Window and the tall round-arched windows of the early 19th Century nave are finely proportioned and allow unhindered light. The walls are smooth, plastered and reflective of that light and give good acoustics.
The West Doors were placed in 1962 in memory of The Reverend Thomas Lever M.C. vicar 1954 – 1958. They were donated by his sister.
The font was repaired and altered to mark the centenary celebrations of the school in 1959. The faculty for the removal of the pews and the repositioning of the font was applied for in 1962. In December 1975 a table and a tapestry picture of “Jesus the Good Shepherd” was donated by Mrs Susan Mcloed to form a children’s corner and altar. The carpet was given by the M.U. to mark their centenary year.
The present organ was purchased for £600 in 1967 from Reeves & Merner of Talke. It was second-hand and the price included a 25-year guarantee!
The West Gallery
This was probably constructed for musicians and the choir before the coming of the organ and the enlargement of the church.
The Bishop’s Chair
The Oak Bishops Chair was given in memory of Mr. Bloor by his widow in 1967.The dedication of the chair was delayed because of an outbreak of “foot and mouth” disease in the village
Some Interesting Facts about the Church taken from the Records
1778 There were 74 houses, no families of note, no Papists or non conformists. None who disregarded religion. The incumbent resided in Nantwich as there was no house in Haslington. “Absent from one Sunday to another, one Sunday excepted.”One service per Sunday except once a month by agreement. Communion four times a year – Easter about 40 communicants. Sir Thomas Broughton was Patron. No parsonage, no glebe. Chapel in tolerably good repair. No free school or charity school.
Signed John Kent (Deacon 21st Sept. 1766, priest 25th Sept. 1767)
1789 About 100 houses 30 – 40 backward in coming. No services on the 1st Sunday of the month. Holy Communion 3 times a year, Christmas, Easter and one other. Between 50 – 60 communicants. Sunday School.
Signed John Kent.
1892 Kelly’s Directory says…..”St. Matthew’s is a plain edifice of brick, consisting of nave and a western turret containing one bell: there is also at the west end a clock dated 1694: the church affords 200 sittings. The church is in the rural deanery of Congleton, archdeaconry of Macclesfield and diocese of Chester.
1914 Kelly’s Directory adds……”a chancel, vestry and organ chamber were added in 1910 at a cost of £1700. The church affords 300 sittings.”
1904 St Luke’s Church, Oakhanger Moss, which from 1873 formed part of the Parish of St. Matthews, reopened its Mission Room. It was part of the Parish until 1952 when it was transferred to the Parish of Christ Church, Alsager.