About this church
Built in 1839 on land donated by Magdalan College Oxford it is of Victorian Gothic style with a fine reredos, pulpit and rood screen. Three large stained glass windows depict the Nativity, Crucifixion and Resurrection while to the rear the Royal Coat of Arms of Queen Victoria, who had just come to the throne, are displayed.
The thriving Church of St Matthew lies at the bottom of Otterbourne Hill on what was the old turnpike from Southampton to Winchester. With its striking exterior and beautifully decorated interior this church is full of interest to the visitor.
It was consecrated in 1839, at the start of Queen Victoria’s reign, with a plain cross-shaped footprint. The church was built under the auspices of the vicar, John Keble, a well known figure and member of the Oxford Movement. In the 1870’s it was extended to the side and an ornately decorated apse was added to the chancel together with an organ, which required the relocation of the pulpit. Can you spot where the shape of the slabs near the pulpit give a clue to its original location? On either side of the entrance to the chancel are carved wooden rails originally from a Premonstratensian abbey in Flanders. The figures on them are remarkable pieces of 17th century woodwork. Between these rails is a rood screen topped with a sculptured crucifixion scene, which completes the delineation of the nave from the chancel. This screen was added to commemorate the long association of the well known Victorian author Charlotte Yonge, with St Matthew’s. To the rear of the altar is a beautifully painted and sculptured reredos.
More recent history shows in the stained glass window above the main entrance. A nearby bomb blew out some of the glass during the second world war. Can you spot some upside down pieces of glass? Look closely at the plinth section of the picture. A glazier replacing the pieces must not have noticed his mistake. Now the upside down pieces remain there as part of our history.
Outside there is more interest. Look near the main door for the very gothic looking grave of a man who corresponded with Mary Shelley. There are memorials to Charlotte Yonge, a surgeon to the Queen Mother, a Portsmouth Football manager, a private secretary to William Gladstone and our only official war grave. Also, you may like to look for some old memorials made unusually from cast iron or concrete or contemplate the names on our War Memorial immediately to the front of the church.