The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 3
This church is situated on the west side of , and almost at the north end thereof. It is dedicated to St. Matthew, the Evangelist. It is not certain who was the founder of this church; but it was in the patronage of the abbot and convent of in . King Henry VIII. having dissolved the convent, and made at a bishop's see, his majesty, amongst other places, gave this church to the bishop of . King Edward VI. dissolved that bishopric, and translated this living to the bishop of London; in whom the advowson of continues.
It was burnt down in , and by that means made parochial for this and the parish of , Westcheap, which is annexed to it by act of parliament.
This church is of the humblest of sir Christopher Wren's productions; it is nearly concealed by the adjacent houses. The east end, which abuts on the footpath, is the only portion of the exterior which has any pretensions to ornament. The elevation commences with a lofty stylobate sustaining piers with a wide interval between them occupied by an arcade, composed of semicircular arches, sustained on square insulated antae without bases, the capitals composed, and consisting of an upright row of acanthus leaves and an abacus; the archivolts are bold, and are bounded by a single enriched ogee; the key-stones are carved with cherubim; the voids are glazed, and form a range of windows; the elevation finishes with a ballustrade above a bold cornice. The south side of the church abuts on a narrow passage; it is built with brick, and has arched windows enclosed in rusticated frontispieces, and also doorways with segment arches. The division from the east is compoed and rusticated to give a character to the building when viewed in profile; the elevation is finished with a stone coping. The north side has a doorway near the west end, similar to those on the opposite side, and nearer to the east are windows divided by a very slender pier. The west end is entirely concealed; it has a single circular headed window; the tower is situated partly within the walls, and occupying the south-west angle; it rises above the church in story, with a window in each face, and finished with a parapet and coping; the whole structure is very low, and entirely devoid of architectural character, and from its want of elevation is not seen from any point of view unless the spectator is so far elevated as to be able to clear the adjacent houses. The interior is even more humble than the outside, being entirely destitute of any pretensions to architectural ornament, having a plain naked appearance scarcely superior to a dissenting meeting. The arches of the eastern windows have no imposts, the pilasters which answer that end on the
| outside being applied only in that situation. The ceiling is horizontal, and at its union with the walls, the sharpness of the angle is broken by a slight coving bounded above and below by simple mouldings. The west window rises too high for the ceiling, and consequently a deep concavity is formed over its head. The altar screen of oak is made into a centre and wings by Corinthian pillars sustaining an entablature and elliptical pediment; on the tympanum, the Hebrew name of the Deity in a triangle, surrounded by a splendid irradiation; besides the usual inscriptions, the screen is enriched with relievi in lime-tree of fruit and foliage, and monograms in shields. A gallery occupies the west end of the church, in which is an organ erected in , and against the front of the former are the royal arms, which have been altered to those of his present majesty (a practice very common but equally improper). The pulpit and desks are grouped against the north wall; the former is hexagonal without a sounding board, and enriched with carving. The southern doorway is covered internally with a porch surmounted by an elliptical pediment; on this side of the church is a tablet having the following inscription:--
The font is painted to imitate sienna marble; the cover of oak, is handsomely carved in the form of an imperial crown; it stands on a pew in the north side of the church. The plainness of the building has even extended itself to the standard for the lord mayor's sword; this appendage to the city churches is usually ornamented with coats of arms; in the present instance, it is merely a rod of iron, surmounted by a crown.
Against the south wall is a handsome white marble monument enriched with twisted Corinthian columns, and the regalia of the lord mayor. It is to the memory of sir Edw. Clarke, knt. lord mayor, ; died , aged . By his wife Eliz. daughter of the Rev. Mr. Gouge, he had issue Ann and Thos.; both died before him: by his , Jane, daughter of R. Clatterbook, esq. he had children that survived him.
On the north side of the chancel is a neat marble tablet to the memory of Michael Lort, D.D. F.R.S. A.S.; years
|professor of the Greek language in the university of Cambridge, and years rector of this parish. He died , aged : also his widow, Susannah, who died , aged .|
Sir Christopher Wren was architect of this church, but he does not appear to have bestowed much attention on the design. It was built in at the expense of The dimensions are as follows: length feet, breadth , height , and of tower, feet.