St Matthew's, Westnewton

The church of St Matthew's was built in 1857, together with the adjacent church school, which was completed a year later. Both are situated in the heart of the village. The church runs the regular village dance evenings, and domino evenings. Visitors and locals are most welcome to visit the church and to attend any event.

1st Sunday:9.00am - Family Service
2nd Sunday:9.00am - Holy Communion
3rd Sunday:9.00am - Morning Prayer
4th Sunday:9.00am - Holy Communion
5th Sunday:United Service at one of the Churches in the Parish

Until about 150 years ago Westnewton was in Bromfield parish and had no church and only a tiny school. The population, including Mealrigg and Yearn Gill was about 400 people. Mrs Barwise of Langrigg collected over £2000 in about 11 years but this was still not enough. Then Mr John Todd, a Manchester merchant born in Westnewton, offered to build the church, parsonage and masters house if the£2000 Mrs Barwise had collected was used to endow the church. The Lord of the Manor gave the land on the town green, and the building began in 1856.

The Bishop of Carlisle laid the foundation stone on 11th June 1856. He came by train to Aspatria and was brought on by carriage, but many walked in procession from the station. A year later the Bishop returned to dedicate and consecrate the church to St Matthew. The church was filled to overflowing for the service, and afterwards there was a luncheon party for the guests, and tea for the local inhabitants.

The church was built in the early English style, with a chancel nave and tower, by John Walker of Wigton, who unfortunately died before it was completed. It has many memorial stained glass windows to the Barwise and Todd families who were so concerned in its building. The first vicar, Revd John Bone, came a year later when the parsonage was completed. Westnewton became a separate parish about ten years later.

The first school and master’s house were built in 1858, and from having almost nothing, the people of Westnewton must have felt like living in the hub of the universe!

Taken from an old newspaper article from about 50 years ago, donated by a resident of Westnewton.

So who was Matthew?

Matthew was a tax collector in the region of Capernaum, by the Sea of Galilee. He was unpopular with his own people because he collected taxes on behalf of the Romans. Jesus called him to be a disciple, and chose him to be one of the twelve apostles, Jesus’ closest group of supporters. Matthew is mentioned in the first three gospels, although Mark and Luke also called him Levi, which might be a family or ‘clan’ name. With the other apostles, Matthew was a witness of the risen Jesus, and for a time stayed with the other leaders of the early church in Jerusalem, until he eventually set out to carry the Good News to other lands. There are traditions that he died in Egypt, Persia or Pontus in Turkey, but there can be no certainty about this.

The gospel which bears Matthew’s name was written around 80AD, probably not by Matthew himself, but by a disciple or assistant who combined Matthew’s teaching with much that was in Mark’s gospel, which had been written some ten years earlier. It contains many references to Old Testament prophecy, and was probably written for a church which included a high proportion of Jewish Christians in its number.

Built by John Todd, a Manchester merchant and native of Westnewton. He also built the School, School House, the North side St Matthew’s Cottages and Vicarage.

The church is Early English style consisting of Chancel, Nave, South Porch & Western turret containing a clock and one bell.

There are several stained glass windows- one on west side presented by Mrs Barwise, Langrigg Hall, in memory of her daughter, portraying St Matthew & St Barnabas. Two on the North side, The Good Samaritan in memory of John Wilkinson, Mealrigg and the other in memory of Miss Todd, Westnewton House.

Rev. John Bone was the first vicar for 40 years, died 1898. To his memory and his wife Elizabeth the South window representing their patron saints St John the Divine and St Elizabeth.

Two windows erected by John Todd in respect of his two wives Amelia, died 1855 & Sarah died 1877.

Reredos of stone with granite shafts.

Organ placed in church 1910 as a memory to Rev. J Bone

Brass Tablet in memory to fallen of Great War and Wooden Tablet in memory to fallen of Second World War.

Two brass plates in memory of Mr .Todd’s two wives and another to himself.