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Celebrating St Matthew’s 125 – Local brewer leads the way

25 September 2018

It is often pointed out that St Matthew’s Church was built on the proceeds of beer, in fact as a memorial to Pickering Phipps, the local brewer who had twice been Mayor of Northampton and twice an MP. To recall the Phipps family’s endowment, Jeremy Phipps, the current chairman of the reinvigorated brewery, kindly consented to carry the silver processional cross at the head of this year’s procession. Among the family’s many gifts to the parish, the silver cross and matching acolytes where given on St Matthew’s Day 1891. Later, on the same date in 1893, Pickering Phipps’ son (of the same name) carried it into church on the day of consecration. (The cross is one of a pair; its larger bejewelled brother is in Westminster Abbey.) It must have been a great moment in the life of the local church and community. With hindsight, we might also say that the founding of St Matthew’s was an event which has proved to be of significance to the wider Church.

Here follows an excerpt from a contemporary account of the opening ceremonies:

After two years of arduous labour, at length arrived the long looked for return of September 21st (St Matthew’s Day), 1893. In the early morning, the last of the busy workmen departed, and the whole building was ready for the important ceremony of the day. At 7.30 a.m. there was a celebration of Holy Communion in the Temporary Iron Church. At eleven a.m. came the Consecration of the new Church, followed by the Institution and Induction of the Rev. J. R. Hussey as Vicar.

The Bishop, attended by his Chaplain, together with the Clergy, which came from all parts of the Diocese, robed at the Temporary Iron Church, and, with the choir, proceeded to the West Front of the new Church in the following Order, singing the hymn “Forward be our Watchword,” Mr. Pickering Phipps carrying the processional cross which was his gift on the day of the foundation stone laying …

That occasion would have been full of hope for the future, as indeed was this historically resonant and moving moment in this year’s anniversary celebrations. We give thanks to God for the foresight and generosity of our benefactors, and for the faithful of the intervening and continuing generations who have nurtured and sustained God’s Church into the future.



Celebrating the 125th anniversary of the consecration of the church building. Read more...



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