St Matthew's Church, Stretton

St Matthew's Church, Stretton is in the village of Stretton, Cheshire, England. The church has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade II listed building. It is an active Anglican parish church in the diocese of Chester, the archdeaconry of Chester and the deanery of Great Budworth. Its benefice is combined with that of St Cross, Appleton Thorn.


From the reign of Henry II, the village of Stretton was owned by the Starkey family and it is likely that a chapel was built for the family during the 13th or 14th century. In a will dated 1527 the chapel is referred to as the Oratory of St Saviour. In Leycester's history of Cheshire it is stated that in 1666 the "ancient chapel of Stretton" was "ruinous and in decay". In 1826–27 a Commissioners' Church was built as a chapel of ease to Great Budworth. It was designed by Philip Hardwick and accommodated 250 people. In 1859 Richard Greenall, vicar and Archdeacon of Chester, commissioned George Gilbert Scott to build a chancel, which he did. Richard Greenall died suddenly in 1867, and following this the rest of the church was rebuilt as a memorial to him, Scott again being the architect.


The church is built in red sandstone with Westmorland slate roofs. The plan consists of a five-bay nave with a clerestory, north and south aisles, a two-bay chancel, a north vestry and a west tower. The tower is in three stages with angle buttresses, an octagonal northeast turret, paired bell-openings and a corbelled plain parapet. On the west and south sides of the tower are clock faces which have letter mottoes rather than numbers.


The west door screen, dated 1982, is made of oak and is by Hayes and Finch of Liverpool. The roof of the nave is of red deal and the pews are oak. The font, which dates from 1867, is in stone with a carved oak canopy. The pulpit was designed by Scott and installed in 1859. The tiles in the sanctuary are thought to be Minton encaustic tiles; the tiles elsewhere in the church are black and red. The organ was built by Henry Willis and installed in 1876. Additional stops were added to the organ in the early 1920s. The frontal of the altar and the reredos were made of carved oak by E. H. Sankey in 1957. The east window was designed and made by Miss T. M. Cox and dedicated in 1939. Much of the rest of the stained glass in the church is by Clayton and Bell. The ring originally consisted of six bells which were dated 1850. They were re-hung in 1920 and again in 1987. In 2003 two additional bells were cast, making a total ring of eight. The original bells were made by Charles and George Mears at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, and the later bells were cast by John Taylor Bellfounders.

External features

In the churchyard is a war memorial which consists of a stone cross, approximately 15 feet (5 m) high, on an octagonal base which was consecrated in 1923. The lych gate dates from 1889.