Harlaston is a small village population c370 on the southwestern side of the Mease Valley.
Along with much of South-East Staffordshire Harlaston goes back along way before 1066.In the Doomsday Book it is recorded as having a corn mill.
The church stands on elevated ground in the centre of the village, it is built in red brick on stone in Norman and early English styles with plastered internal walls. It consists of a nave, south porch, Norman tower, chancel and vestry. The tower has three bells and a clock.
Behind the church is a green where an archaeological dig found evidence of a 14th century manor house; parts of the moat are still visible.
The origins of the church are obscure. In Kelly’s Staffordshire Directory for 1924 it is written that the origins of the church may be Saxon dating back to the 9th century. It is probably referred to in the Kings Book of 1535 as ‘Clifton cum Capella’, previously it may have been a domestic chapel attached to the estate of the Vernon family (Relations of the Vernons of Sudbury Hall).
Harlaston was constituted as an Ecclesiastical Parish in 1845. It is apparent from the Vestry minutes at that time the church was in danger of falling down. The major restoration was finished in 1883; this included rebuilding the tower moving the main door from the west wall of the tower to the south wall of the nave and building a porch, general repairs to the rest of the church and new seating.
The stained glass is Victorian and modern. Susan Neville of Haselour House endowed the large fine east window in 1894 in memory of her brother and parents it depicts the Ascension curiously with twelve disciples. The oldest visible structures in the church are the timber trusses supporting the bell-loft; these have been dated 15th century. Of the three bells, the middle bell is the earliest, probably cast around 1500, with an interesting dedication leading to much speculation; there is a fairly detailed summary of this in the booklet ‘St Matthews Harlaston Village’ available in the church.
The small bell is dated 1694. The organ was initially installed in 1867. It had a single manual and was bought second-hand for £57-5s-10d. It was rebuilt to its present form in 1946 in memory of those who gave their lives in the world wars. Since then the church has been rewired, the heating been modernised and the lovely Victorian tiled floor relayed.
There are currently plans to modernise the tower room, install a sound system and renew the lighting.
St MATTHEWS CHURCH HARLASTON OPEN CHURCH
St Matthew’s Church is open every day between 10.00am and 5pm for prayer or quiet contemplation or just for a visit to our beautiful little church.
If you wish you can fill in a prayer card, which you will find by the door, and leave it by the cross on the altar and we will pray for you during our service.
The Church is a quiet peaceful place, it is small well-kept and traditional, it has some decorative Victorian stained glass, including the East Window which depicts the Ascension with Jesus surrounded by twelve disciples, the dedication may give a clue as to why. There is also some modern stained glass.
All are very welcome.
Dr. Phillip Wood,
Tel: 01827 383291