St Matthew's Church, Northampton

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St Matthew's Church
St Matthew's Church, Northampton
Country United Kingdom
Denomination Church of England
Churchmanship Anglo Catholic
Dedication St. Matthew
Diocese Peterborough
Province Canterbury
Vicar(s) Fr Nicholas Setterfield
Organist/Director of music Stephen Moore
Organist(s) Jonathan Starmer
Churchwarden(s) Ann Walker & Rosamund Catlin

St Matthew's Church, Northampton is a Church of England parish church in Northampton, within the Diocese of Peterborough.


St Matthew's, Northampton, is a parish of the Church of England in the diocese of Peterborough. It was consecrated on St Matthew's Day, 21 September 1893, with Canon Rowden Hussey as its first vicar. The tradition of the church has always been firmly Anglo Catholic, and a daily Eucharist has been celebrated from the outset.

St Matthew's was built by the Phipps family as a memorial to Mr Pickering Phipps (1836-1890), the head of Phipps Brewery in Bridge Street, Northampton. Pickering Phipps took over the family business that had been founded in 1807. He became a prominent citizen of the town, being Mayor from 1860-1866, a Justice of the Peace, and MP from 1874-1880. Prior to his death he had begun to develop a new housing estate to be called Phippsville, on a site he owned bordering the Kettering Road. He indicated that he would give the land for a church and vicarage to be built for the new parish of St Matthew's. He died before a permanent church could be built, but his family gave the land and finance for the church to be built in his memory.

His son, also named Pickering Phipps, became a friend of the first vicar, John Rowden Hussey, and carried the processional Cross, his first gift to the church, at the laying of the Foundation Stone in 1891, and then again as crucifer at the dedication of the new church 'To the Glory of God and in memory of Pickering Phipps, JP.'

The church quickly became known for its dignified worship and excellent music and both were developed further in the time of Canon Rowden Hussey's son, Walter Hussey, as second vicar. He commissioned music including Gerald Finzi's Lo, the Full, Final Sacrifice (1946), and later Benjamin Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb and Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms when his career took him to Chichester Cathedral. Works of art were commissioned, including "Madonna & Child" by Henry Moore and "Crucifixion" by Graham Sutherland, which stand facing each other in the transepts of St Matthew's. Walter Husseywas appointed Dean of Chichester in 1955.

Commissions under the following vicars of St Matthew's have contributed to this field, and the tradition continues to the present day with recent musical and artistic commissions.


St Matthew's follows an Anglican service with Catholic traits. The church celebrates two Eucharistic services on a Sunday including a Parish Mass at 10.15am which is Choral on Feast Days. The Parish Mass is 'pro populo' on the Nave Altar and the Lectern has recently been moved from the Chancel step to the High Altar to make way for a traditional statue of St Matthew. Choral Evensong is sung twice a month with Benediction following the service on the third Sunday of each. The church maintains a daily Eucharist service and has done since its founding in 1893. The Daily Offices of Morning & Evening Prayer are also said publicly every day of the year.


Music has long been an important part of the life of St Matthew's, both liturgically and through links forged with local educational, amateur and professional ensembles.

For many years St Matthew's had an all-male choir which was disbanded in the early 2000s. The choir now consists of girl and boy choristers aged 8-18 and adult Altos, Tenors and Basses who sing two services each Sunday. The church choir is supported by The St Matthew's Singers, a choir of local amateur singers, who sing Choral Mass on mid-week Feast Days. The whole music department is overseen by a Director of Music, Parish Organist and Organ Scholar.

The choir undertook a tour of Pembrokeshire in 2012, including a week's residency at St Davids Cathedral. In 2013 the choir visited the South Coast to perform in many churches in and around Portsmouth, including Portsmouth Cathedral and in 2014 will sing the services at Carlisle Cathedral for a week. In April 2013 the choir recorded their first CD for 15 years.

St Matthew's is a concert venue in Northampton. The church is home to the Northampton Bach Choir who were founded by Denys Pouncey in 1935 and for many years had St Matthew's Director of Music as its Director. The church also has links with the Northampton Music and Performing Arts Trust, the Northampton Philharmonic Choir, the Northampton Chamber Choir and many other groups. Regular organ recitals take place.

List of organists[edit]

Many of the previous St Matthew's Directors of Music have gone on to hold important positions in Church Music. These have included Kings College, Cambridge, Wells Cathedral, Norwich Cathedral, Blackburn Cathedral, Llandaff Cathedral, York Minster, and the Cathedral of St John the Divine, New York City. Andrew Reid, a St Matthew's Organ Scholar, is now Director of the Royal School of Church Music.

  • Charles J. King 1895 - 1930 [1] - ????
  • Philip Pfaff 1930 - 1934
  • Denys Pouncey 1934 - 1936
  • Alec Wyton 1946 - 1950[2]
  • Robert Henry Joyce 1950 - 1958
  • John Bertalot 1958 - 1964
  • Michael Nicholas 1964 - 1971[3]
  • Stephen Cleobury 1971 - 1974[citation needed]
  • Timothy Day 1974 - 1976
  • David Ponsford 1976 - 1979
  • Derek Gillard 1979 - 1985
  • Andrew Shenton 1986 - 91
  • Andrew King 1991 - 1998
  • Ian Frank Clarke 1998 - 2001
  • John Malcolm Tyler 2001 - 2004 (Music Coordinator)
  • Jonathan Starmer - Acting Director of Music till September 2005
  • Sebastian Thomson 2005 - 2009
  • Ben Horden 2009 - 2010
  • Stephen Moore 2010 -

Musical commissions[edit]

A list of musical commissions of St Matthew's Church is here below:

  • 1943 - Benjamin Britten - Rejoice in the Lamb
  • 1943 - Michael Tippet - Fanfare No 1 for 10 Brass Instruments
  • 1944 - Edmund Rubbra - The Revival
  • 1945 - Lennox Berkeley - Festival Anthem
  • 1946 - Gerald Finzi - Lo, the full, final sacrifice
  • 1946 - Benjamin Britten - Prelude and Fugue on a Theme of Vittoria
  • 1948 - Christopher Headington - Festival Anthem: Supreme Bliss
  • 1949 - John Rose - Festival Hymn
  • 1950 - Malcolm Arnold - Laudate Dominum
  • 1954 - James Butt - Bless the Lord
  • 1956 - David Barlow - Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord
  • 1958 - George Dyson - Hail universal Lord
  • 1959 - Elizabeth Poston - Festal Te Deum
  • 1960 - Peter Dickinson - Justus Quidem Tu Es, Domine
  • 1962 - Brian Judge - Ambrosian Prayer
  • 1964 - Christopher Le Fleming - Communion Service in D
  • 1965 - Kenneth Leighton - Let all the world in every corner sing
  • 1966 - John McCabe - A Hymne to God the Father
  • 1967 - Richard Rodney Bennett - Five Christmas Carols
  • 1968 - Gordon Crosse - The Covenant of the Rainbow
  • 1968 - Herbert Howells - One thing have I desired of the Lord
  • 1968 - Robert Walker - Fanfare
  • 1973 - William Mathias - Missa Brevis
  • 1977 - Sebastian Forbes - Quam Dilecta
  • 1983 - Philip Moore - At the round earth's imagined corners
  • 1986 - Herbert Sumsion - The spacious firmament on high
  • 1987 - Geoffrey Burgon - The song of the creatures
  • 1988 - John Tavener - The Call
  • 1988 - Simon Lole - Carol for Advent
  • 1989 - Richard Shephard - St Matthew's Mass
  • 1989 - Alan Ridout - Toccata
  • 1989 - Ivan Moody - Canticle of Simeoon
  • 1990 - Paul Edwards - God that madest heaven and earth
  • 1990 - Trevor Hold - Verses from St Matthew
  • 1991 - Alec Wyton - A Prayer for Church Musicians and Artists
  • 1993 - Diana Burrell - Heil'ger Geist in's Himmels Throne
  • 2008 - David Briggs - Toccata for St Matthew's Day
  • 2009 - David Bednall - The Walter Hussey Centenary Mass
  • 2009 - David Bednall - Aspire to God, my soul
  • 2012 - Paul Mealor - How beautiful on the mountains
  • 2013 - David Halls - This is the Day
  • 2013 - David Halls - Mass of the Altar of Life


  1. ^ Dictionary of Organs and Organists. Frederick W. Thornsby
  2. ^ The Hymnal 1982 companion, Volume 2. Raymond F. Glover
  3. ^ Norwich Cathedral: church, city, and diocese, 1096-1996. Ian Atherton

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°15′08″N 0°52′39″W / 52.25222°N 0.87750°W / 52.25222; -0.87750