Churches and Chapels of Stoke-on-Trent

St. Matthew C of E - Etruria,  Hanley

- since demolished -

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St. Matthew's Church, Etruria

St. Matthew's Church, Etruria 
pen drawing by Neville Malkin - January 1976

-click picture for more-

[Since demolished]

photos and maps of St. Matthew's Church


The church of St. Matthew, Etruria was founded in September 1847, 40 years after the building of the Etruria pottery works and village by Josiah Wedgwood.

Originally in the parish of St. Mark, Shelton - the new parish of Etruria was created in 1844.

The Boatmen's Chapel:
Early in 1844 the Rev. Henry Wynter came to Etruria village and stated that he intended to stay, when it was pointed out that there was no Church of England in the village he announced that he would make one. He hired temporary premises in a large club room over the stable of the Etruria Inn.
After a short time he purchased the ground halfway between the canal bridge and the first lock, towards Shelton, and on this, by June 1844, had built the "Boatmen's Chapel" - this chapel was closed after the opening of St. Matthew's and on its site was built the Navigation Inn.

St. Matthew's Etruria :
In 1845 the Bishop instructed that the schoolroom then being built should be used for services as soon as it was completed in place of the 'boatsmen's chapel' The church was consecrated on Sunday September 21st 1847 - St. Matthew's Day.  It was built from light sandstone brought by canal barge from Cauldon Lowe. The land it was built on formerly contained the cottage of John Bourne.

The Church of St. Matthew , Etruria
The Church of St. Matthew 
taken 1948 by E.J.D. Warrillow

The church was designed by Henry Ward and Son of Hanley. on Henry Ward

It is Early English style and contained 727 sittings, 500 of these were free. The church cost 2,500 to erect and the living was 150 per annum. The tower contained one bell.

St. Mathew's consisted of nave, aisles, chancel and north-west turret. There were originally galleries on three sides.


Vicars of St. Matthew's:

Rev. Henry Wynter October 1847  to July 1856
Rev. C. J. Sterling August 1856 to November 1964
Rev. Robert Topham December 1864 to September 1889
Rev. Willis Barrett May 1990 to August 1913
Rev. Thomas Horwood February 1914 to



The first burial took place before the church had been officially opened - that of Anne Price, aged 22 on May 25th 1847.

The first christening took place on October 3rd 1847 - it was John Collier Slack, son of William Henry and Slack of Mill Street, Etruria.

First triplets - on February 13th 1848 the triplets of John and Mary Cooke - Mary Caroline, John and Eliza - were christened.

First wedding took place at the church on June 25th 1849 between Samuel Beckett and Hannah Eastwood.


Other interesting facts:

The first vicar, Rev Wynter, was the Chaplain to the nearby "House of Recovery" - the first North Staffordshire Royal Infirmary.

The vicar Rev. Topham had two curates - the Rev. J. W. Evans and the Rev. W. L. M. Law. The latter stayed in Etruria until 1907, when he left to take charge of a church in Pisa (of leaning tower fame), part of the ancient Etruria in Italy.

It was in the Rev. Topham's time that a child, Andrew Hollins, aged six, was overcome by fumes and burnt to death on a slag heap belonging to the nearby Shelton Company. He was buried in the churchyard on October 19th 1865.

The last person buried in the Churchyard was "Old Betsy Billington", she was buried by the Rev. Willis Barrett on January 16th 1908. She was the caretaker of the church and a mistress at the church school until it closed in 1902.

There were a total of 973 burials at the churchyard.

In September 1940 and January 1941 bombers, seeking to bomb the Shelton Works, dropped high explosive bombs in the churchyard, adding to the havoc caused by the subsidence. When the church reached its centenary in 1947 there were no celebrations but the church was thoroughly renovated - the re-opening ceremony was held on September 16th 1948 and celebrations were held in September 1948 and 1949.



Nine feet of he short tower was removed in 1935, as it was found to be 15 inches out of the perpendicular, due to the extraordinary subsidence in Etruria.
on the subsidence in Etruria

Subsidence, due to mining, has been a problem in Etruria. By the early 1950's there was a drop of two feet ten inches from west to east in the church and and eighteen inch drop from north to south. In 1938 the escape of expanding air from the mine workings caused "a deluge of tiles" to fall from the walls onto the choir. One day the Rev. Horwood was in the church and there was a noise "like the rushing of a mighty wind" and he was a column of water rising at the end of the church to a height of fifteen feet.

Due to the mining subsidence the church underwent restoration or remedial work in 1890, 1894, 1905 and 1915 and again in 1947-8 as a result of the bombing.

By 1960 most of the walls were out of the perpendicular and had been secured by iron ties. Two of the stone arches of the nave were supported on wooden strutting. Later the church was demolished because of its poor condition.


photos and maps of St. Matthew's Church


questions/comments/contributions? email: Steve Birks