History and Virtual Tour of St Matthew’s

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The history of our “Tin Church”
It was planned at the time of building St Matthew’s that it should only be a temporary building and that a stone one would eventually replace it. This has never happened and it is now in the unique position of being one of the last churches of its kind.

    Opening Ceremony

St Matthew’s was opened on Thursday morning 19th September 1895 by Bishop Lewis the Bishop of Llandaff and Lord Bishop of the Diocese.

    Why was St Matthew’s Built?

For a long time the need for a church closer to the area of Cwmynyscoy and district was considered, as the parish church was inconveniently situated at the extreme end of Panteg and, for the older and more infirm parishioners, was very difficult to reach in the winter and in bad weather.

For many years a Sunday School and Sunday evening services were conducted at Pontymoile Old School, a large building situated at the bottom of Cwmynyscoy, which was pulled down in the 1980’s.

A committee was formed for the purpose of raising sufficient funds to build a Church in the area. The committee members were:

Rev’d W. N. G. Eliot (Rector)
Rev’d J. D. Evans (Curate)
Mr H. J. Pankhurst (Church Warden)
Mr R. J. Williams (Church Warden)
Mr A. A. Williams (Justice of the Peace)
Mr I. Butler (Justice of the Peace)
Mr J. W. Harden (Honorary Secretary)
Mr H. A Saunders
Mr J. W. Upstone
Mr C. Lawrence
Mr M. Morgan
Mr Sidney Evans

As a result of trade depression and the poverty of the district it was felt it would be better to limit the cost of the new building to a galvanized iron building to provide accommodation for 300 persons or about a fourth of the surrounding population. The Bishop of Llandaff contributed a generous donation to the fund and the sum of £400 had been raised. The temporary building costs were to total £450.00p.

Mr J. C. Hanbury, Justice of the Peace, D. L, Pontypool Park also proved a true friend to the project and donated the land on which St Matthew’s was built. The new building occupied a commanding position in the field leading from the Clarence Station to Cwmynyscoy and was within easy reach from outlying districts such as Trosnant and Pontymoile. The building was simple in design. The contractor was Mr E. Francis from Sebastopol.

The first recorded meeting of the ‘Managers’ of St Matthew’s Church was held on 2nd April 1896 and the members present were:

Mr A. A. Williams, Justice of the Peace and Chair
Mr H. A Saunders
Mr J. M. Upstone
Rev’d J. D. Evans
Mr J. W. Harden

The first sides men were:
Mr A. A. Williams
Mr H. A Saunders
Mr J. W. Upstone
Mr J. W. Harden
Mr Job Jones
Mr M. Morgan
Mr Sidney Evans
Mr James Price
Mr Charles Jones

During the 1950’s, St Matthew’s House (the bungalow at the side of the Church) was built as a residence for the curate. In February 1955 and impressive stained glass East Window, depicting Christ calling Matthew, was dedicated in memory of its donor Mr Joseph Bell, a Headmaster of Pontymoile School. In 1966 the Church hall was erected for the sum of £1,642. The opening Service was attended by the Most Reverend Alfred Edwin Morris, DD, Archbishop of Wales and Mr Richard Hanbury-Tenison, later to become Lord Lieutenant of Gwent.

During the early 1990’s St Matthew’s underwent an extensive examination. This included having the sheeting removed and replaced in order to inspect the fabric of the building and to ensure it was fit for purpose. The examination found St Matthew’s to be in excellent condition but in need of some restoration. As a result of fund raising events and support from the local community, the restoration was undertaken in 2002.

St Matthew’s Centenary
In September 1995 St Matthew’s celebrated its centenary with the Bishop of Monmouth, the Right Reverend Doctor Rowan Williams, who in 2002 became the Archbishop of Canterbury. It was a wonderful occasion with the youngest and oldest members of the congregation assisting Bishop Rowan to cut St Matthew’s Centenary Birthday Cake.