The Parish Church of Saint Matthew Big Lamp ~ Newcastle
The Building - Beginnings
The    district    of    Saint    Matthew’s    was    formed    from    Saint John’s    parish    and    endowed    with    £200    per    year    by    the Ecclesiastical    Commissioners    in    November    1869.        There was   no   building   until   the   purchase   by   Father   Robert   Daunt, the first Vicar, of an iron church opened on 1 st  May 1870. From   this   date,   a   site   was   sought   for   a   more   substantial building.        When    Saint    Paul’s    parish    decided    that    they wished   to   move   the   Vicarage   nearer   to   their   church,   the land    at    the    top    of    Westgate    Hill    was    acquired    and    the foundation   stone   was   laid   on   1 st    May   1878   by   Percy   G   B Westmacott    (1830    -    1917),    a    prominent    engineer,    whose family provided considerable funds for the building of the Church. The   architect   chosen   to   design   Saint   Matthew's   was   Robert   James   Johnson   (1832   -   1892)   assisted by   his   then   pupil   William   Searle   Hicks   (1849   -   1902).      Johnson   was   the   go-to   architect   of   his generation   in   the   Northeast.      He   was   involved   in   the   refurbishment   of   many   churches   in   the   region as   well   as   the   design   of   several,   including   All   Saints,   Gosforth   and   Saint   Hilda's,   Whitby.      A   pupil   of George   Gilbert   Scott   and   a   friend   of   Bodley,   he   was   imbued   with   the   Tractarian   revival   and   the   Arts and Crafts movement.  Although   he   was   the   architect,   Saint   Matthew's   is   lighter   and   more   graceful   than   his   other   works and   it   has   been   speculated   that   Hicks   had   a   hand   even   in   the   first   phase   of   design.      Johnson   died before the next phase could begin and Hicks took over the project at this point.  The   first   phase   of   the   present   building   -   the   Chancel   and   the   Nave   as   far   as a   line   marked   roughly   by   the   westerly-most   pews   was   consecrated   in   1880.     Money   was   the   principal   barrier   to   immediate   completion   of   the   project; but   by   1895,   the   West   end   and   the   tower   were   built.         The   original   plan   had been   to   locate   the   tower   at   the   Southwest   corner   of   the   building,   but   this was   changed   prior   to   work   starting   on   the   second   phase   of   construction; however,   there   is   a   remnant   of   this   initial   intention   in   the   staircase   to   the tower adjacent to the South door.  The   third   phase   of   work   –   the   other   asisles-   was   finished   in   1905;   and   the Hall   complex,   which   includes   the   sacristies   (It   was   originally   envisaged that    the    sacristies    would    be    located    in    a    crypt    type    area    below    the Northeast   corner   of   the   church.      The   rooms   exist,   but   are   not   now   used   for those purposes) and a staircase joining the Hall to the Church in 1907.
W S Hicks