The Parish Church of Saint MatthewBig Lamp ~ Newcastle
The Building - The Sanctuary
The Sanctuary is set on a level above the Chancel and divided by a fine pair of oak rails. The floor and the three steps that rise to the Altar are set with more Frosterley Marble.Behind the High Altar sits a stone carved reredos which was the gift of Johnson's family and colleagues. It follows his design found after his death and is reminiscent of the one in the Cathedral.It slightly obscures part of the great East Window which fenestrates most of the upper half of the East Wall. The window is by the studio of Charles Eamer Kempe (1837 - 1907) and depicts in the left half a Jesse Treeand in the right half an Arbor Vitae.The walls of the Sanctuary are clad in carved stone pierced by a stone credence table the sedilia on the South side. The priest and his assistants sit at the sedilia for various liturgies.On the North side, the large wooden doors open onto a chest for Altar. Above this are three cupboards for storing items associated with the Liturgy (in the past this would have included the church plate, but nothing of material value is kept in them now).There is an austere beauty to the Sanctuary, broken a little by the colour of the Altar frontal. However, the area comes alive as the Liturgy is celebrated at the Altar . The principal Altar is usually called “The High Altar” and is used on Sundays and major feasts at solemn celebrations of the Mass and other rites.