St Mary The Virgin Church, Matching

The church is in a beautiful setting next to the Ancient Marriage Feast Room, which was built for the poor of the Parish to hold their wedding receptions. Matching Hall and farm is to the south side and the old vicarage to the north side.

Church history

The current church was built on the site of a Norman church. In 1875 Lord Rookwood who owned the Down Hall estate restored and enlarged the church to the designs of Sir Arthur Bloomfield at a cost of £3,000. The nave was lengthened by one bay - a new Chancel. The interior is constructed in oak. The chancel roof is divided into 36 squares, 24 have alternate decoration of an olive branch and a crown over a thornless rose. The 12 squares over the altar are symbolic of Christ's passion and crucifixion. The ceiling of the side chapel is decorated with pomegranates and lilies. The tower is 15th century and has a low tiled spire and a weathercock. There are 6 bells, which were restored in 1990. They are rung by a team of bell ringers from the village and by visiting ringers. Entry to the tower is through a carved and decorated screen, given in memory of Eden Rookwood in 1899. The clock was installed to the memory of Lord Rookwood by the Vicar and churchwardens.  As you enter through the South Porch, to the left of the door you will see the Font, which is of 15th century design. Only the window in the middle of the south wall has survived the 1875 restoration. The first window on this wall commemorates the restoration of the church by Sir Henry and Lady Selwin-Ibbetson. The other window is dedicated to the memory of Sir Henry, who died in 1902, by parishioners and friends. On the north wall the stained glass window is to the memory of George and Maria Macilwain. The pulpit is of Jacobean style and replaces a more elaborate one that had been given in 1624. The Bevington organ was completely restored in 1993. It was given by Mrs Calverley of Down Hall in memory of her brother who died in 1907. On the north wall there are memorial brasses to the Ballet family who lived at Down Hall. Also there are memorials to Nicholas Ashton, George Burnett also to William Dearling and Edward Rudge who were both vicars of Matching.

The Marriage Feast Room

To the west of the church is the Feast Room. This was built in the 15th century for the poor of the parish to hold their wedding receptions. It is two storeys high and of timber and plaster construction. In the lower room there is a brick built fireplace. At one time it was lived in by two families and in 1865 the Vicar started a school there which was used until the present school was built in 1886. On the north wall of the upper floor is some paneling on which a timetable is written. The inaugural meeting of the Matching WI was held in the Feast Room in 1919. They then ran the village library there too. The front was restored in 1992 and it has been redecorated in recent times.

We now use the Feast Room for coffee after services, various fundraising events, PCC meetings and recently it has been used for wedding receptions.

Our church today

As well as the excellent team of bell ringers we have a small but dedicated choir. Members of the congregation assist with serving, some are licensed as Eucharistic Ministers, others lead the prayers, read and are Sidesmen. 

We have a thriving group known as The Friends of St Mary's and The Ancient Marriage Feast Room, who greatly assist with fundraising. Alternate years we have a two-day Flower Festival and a Harvest Supper.