St Matthew’s Parish Church
The Archdiocese of Glasgow
Internal Floor Area
A new lantern for the community
St Matthew’s Parish Church has undergone a transformational refurbishment, creating a new interior in the existing sanctuary, extending the side aisle, and providing new accessible facilities. We have worked closely with the parish over the last five years to bring the project to fruition, and it is one of many successful projects delivered for the Archdiocese of Glasgow. Page\Park have been working with the Archdiocese for over 30 years, delivering fabric repair projects as well as transformational refurbishments.
The church was designed by the well-known Glasgow practice Gillespie Kidd and Coia and has two external relief sculptures by the renowned Scottish mid-century sculptor Benno Schotz. It was constructed in 1947-8, in the austere days after the Second World War. The building is of rudimentary construction much of which was achieved voluntarily by members of the congregation with local priests taking an active part in bricklaying operations1. The site had been cleared of a factory building and roof timbers salvaged explaining the unusually narrow plan. This had been a problem for the church throughout its history, as an orderly receiving of communion requires side aisles for dignified circulation around the church.
Our new extension solves the historic problems with the design of the church, by providing a new side aisle, while also increasing the amount of light into the sanctuary. The new lantern window is intended to make the church more visible in the town and to give it a greater civic presence. The new external terrace along the south side of the building creates a fully wheelchair accessible gathering space that anticipates future public realm works to the town centre.
Page\Park designed a series of new altar furniture for the space, including the altar itself, lectern, presider’s chair, and font. These items are of white precast concrete, referencing the precast used in the original building, and by Benno Schotz for his relief sculptures. The altar piece is formed from six sections, with the front panel divided in three, as a reference to the holy trinity.
The font is formed as a perfect cylinder, with a solid bronze bowl inlaid on top. This was designed in collaboration with Sculpture and Design (Scott Associates).
A new contemporary interior required some re-thinking of the religious objects in the space, and the parish agreed to commission James Rigler to design and construct a new tabernacle in collaboration with Page\Park. The tabernacle is constructed from slip-cast Jesmonite and gold leaf, with a polished brass inner lining. The form and external pattern capture the spirit of the original church building, with inlaid pattern used to reference the symbolism of holy communion.
The tabernacle sits on a solid ash plinth of alternating grain, raising it above the level of the altar. The tabernacle is designed as the focus of the sanctuary.
“The parish community are united in their praise for the building and of those who brought the vision to reality. We are an ecstatic parish community! Not only is the church a building of great beauty and dignity, but it works perfectly in terms of space and usability. I can't thank the team enough for all their hard work, planning, and care.”
Canon Robert Hill Parish Priest at St Matthew’s