Historic Building Details

HB Ref No:

Extent of Listing:
Church, front boundary wall, gates and piers

Date of Construction:
1860 - 1879

Address :
St Matthias Church of Ireland Church Loup Road Moneymore Magherafelt BT45 7ST


Survey 2:

Date of Listing:

Date of De-listing:

Current Use:

Former Use

Conservation Area:

Industrial Archaeology:





OS Map No:

IG Ref:
H8921 8397

Owner Category

Church - C of I

Exterior Description And Setting

A mid-Victorian church in Gothic Revival style ('First Pointed Style of Gothic') consisting of a nave and apsidal chancel with a south porch and a vestry on the north side. A rectangular belfry rises at the north-western corner, while embryonic transepts are marked by steep gables near the east end. It stands in a rural area set back slightly from the main road within its own grounds. The main entrance faces south within an open porch. The south elevation consists of a high roofed nave with a steep gabled porch projecting forward at the western end, and a steep-conical roofed apse extending to the east end. The nave roof is of Bangor blue slates in regular courses, contained between gable copings. Rainwater goods are of cast iron, comprising moulded guttering and circular downpipes with trefoil-ended brackets. Nave walling is of polygonal white limestone rubble with grey sandstone dressings, and Moneymore red sandstone stringcourse which arches over the windows. The stone was obtained from the Draper's Estate. The windows are narrow stop-chamfered and moulded lancets with margined panes, paired in the nave surmounted by a trefoil tracery light, and in a group of three in the transeptal gable with a large circular plate traceried window over them. The porch has a steep slated roof and low side walls of polygonal white limestone rubble. Its gable is of similar walling with sandstone dressings, the shoulders of which rest on a small foliate-capped red colonnette to each side with the wall battered beneath that. The chamfered corner of each kneeler contains a quatrefoil-like cluster of four tiny piercings, an unusually intricate detail. The gable contains a moulded Gothic archway leading into an open porch. To each side of the archway is a small cusp-arched recess at ground level containing a cast iron boot-scraper, while above it is a small ocular opening with a deep-set leaf-carved surround under a red sandstone relieving arch. At the apex of the gable the coping is terminated by a carved trefoil. The open porch has an original coloured tiled floor of geometrical pattern. The walls are of white painted brickwork rising to a Gothic arched vault. In the rear wall is a sandstone-dressed Gothic arched opening with a datestone inscribed '1868' at the top. It contains a Gothic arched ledged timber door which has decoratively treated ironwork hinges. The west gable is of similar walling to previous, but cross banded with four red sandstone stringcourses, and one projecting moulded grey sandstone stringcourse which acts as a cill for the tall triple-lancet window. In the apex of the gable is a small Gothic arched lancet opening to ventilate the roofspace. At the right hand extremity of the gable is a flat rectangular buttress with a battered weathered base which clasps the corner. At the left hand extremity is a similarly projecting but wider tall tower with a similarly detailed base which rises to a steep hipped stone roofed bellcote. The corners of the tower are moulded and rise as tall thin colonnettes to the top of the tower where they terminate in bell capitals carved with trefoil leafage. The tower contains a narrow lancet window at what might be described as gallery height, and a cusped-arched opening at the top which contains a large bell. Above springing height in the belfry stage there is narrow cross-banding in red sandstone and two small red-encircled ocular motifs in the spandrels. The bellcote is further embellished with imbrications on its roof and finials on the ridge. The north elevation is generally similar to the south, but with a narrow semi-circular lancet window at the west end in place of a porch, and the addition of a small vestry projecting at the east end. The vestry has a slated roof of hipped form. It contains a rectangular ledged timber door with decoratively treated ironwork hinges recessed in a shouldered opening on the front face, approached by a stone step, with a pair of coupled cusped Gothic windows in the east side. The east gable of the nave has a rounded oblong chimney in regular coursed sandstone on a base of battered profile rising from the right hand side, with the curved apse projecting below. Walling of the apse is as previous to the other walls but without red banding. There are three weathered buttresses with battered bases alternating with three windows around the apse. The windows consist of a cusped narrow single-light surmounted by trefoil tracery all set in a Gothic lancet. The pattern of stonework on the front of the buttresses is unusual, with narrow triangles of white limestone between angle-ended sandstone blocks. SETTING: The building is approached by a tarmac drive from a gateway on axis with the main entrance, looping around a circular flower bed. To each side of the driveway and all around the church are lawns, containing a number of graves and some tall mature deciduous trees and lower neatly-clipped evergreen trees. The boundary in front of the church is formed by a rubble stone wall with rough stone copings. It contains a vehicular gateway consisting of a pair of decoratively treated ironwork gates of High Victorian character, designed by the architects of the church, and similar to the original gates they designed for St Patrick's Church at Ballyclog the same year as this. They are mounted on piers of cut sandstone with inter-locking joints and chamfered capstones. Standing a short distance to the west of the church against the western boundary is a small flat roofed rendered toilet block, while standing well to the east of the church, beyond the actual churchyard enclosure and separated from it by a field, is the later stone-built Victorian rectory, not currently occupied.


Welland & Gillespie

Historical Information

Built in 1866-8 to designs of Welland and Gillespie, architects of Dublin. The site was conveyed from the Salters Company on 1 June 1865; the foundation stone laid by Andrew Spotswood, agent for the Salters Company, on 23 July 1866; and the church ( in the 'First pointed Style') consecrated by the Lord Primate, the Archbishop of Armagh on 23 February 1868. Contractor George Tipping. The glebe house standing to the east was built in 1880. References - Primary Sources 1. Irish Builder, Volume 10, 1st May (1868), p116. 2. Irish Architectural Archive, PKS LI (p816). 3. Datestone of 1868 above main entrance within the open porch. 4. OS Map of 1905-6. 5. Salter's Company Archives. Plan and west elevation of Ballyeglish Parish Church, 1865. Secondary Sources 1. J.B. Leslie, Armagh Clergy and Parishes (Dundalk, 1911), pp 128-129. 2. A.J. Rowan, The Buildings of Ireland: North-West Ulster (Harmondsworth, 1979), pp 65, 125, and plate 110. 3. Curl. S (1986) Londonderry Plantation, pp340-1

Criteria for Listing

Architectural Interest

A. Style B. Proportion C. Ornamentation F. Structural System I. Quality and survival of Interior J. Setting

Historic Interest

V. Authorship W. Northern Ireland/International Interest Y. Social, Cultural or Economic Importance


This is a very fine example of a 19th century church in High Victorian Gothic Revival style of characteristic proportions and plan, displaying an unusual combination of masonry types, with an appropriate degree of architectural ornamentation both inside and outside. This ornamentation takes the form of polychromatic masonry outside, embellished in some places by carved details, as well as the stylised leafage and other motifs of the main gateway which together with its front boundary walling enhances the setting of the church. Inside it takes the form of polychromatic masonry as well as characteristic foiled motifs and notchings on the pulpit, stencilled motifs on the sanctuary ceiling, and grisaille decoration in stained glass windows. The interior which remains almost entirely intact is enhanced by a roof structure of unusual design. The church stands as an exceptionally good and interesting example of the creativity of its architects, Welland and Gillespie of Dublin, one of the leading firms of ecclesiastical specialists in Ireland of the period; such an element as the bootscraper recesses in the front of the porch is a particularly notable example of their particular inventiveness in design, combining functional usefulness with an all-embracing Gothic vision.

General Comments

Paul Larmour has given 23rd February 1868 as date of consecration in his text here, but the Irish Architectural Archive database says 15th April 1868. TRS Paul Larmour noted that interior walls had painted brickwork, but did not evidently appreciate that this was originally carefully designed polychrome work - obliterated by the Church of Ireland's long standing love affair with blue and white paint ! However, I do not think this should effect the grading as the brickwork is still there, albeit hidden. TRS 20th April 2009.

Date of Survey

Saturday, February 09, 2008