St Matthew's, West Ham, originated about 1891, when Canon Richard Pelly, vicar of All Saints, opened a mission to serve the area between Romford Road and West Ham Park.
The present church building was designed by architect and antiquarian E. P. Loftus Brock, who also designed the original church of St. Marks, Forest Gate. He unfortunately died before it was completed and was succeeded by George Patrick. It was built by Parmenters, of Braintree And Bocking, and completed in 1896 at a cost of £6,000, and a separate parish was formed in 1897. The turret on the top of the church originally contained 8 tubular bells, although in 1909 there was only a single bell, and there was seating for 650 people.
The first vicar provided an endowment of £140, a vicarage house, and an organ. The patronage was at first vested in trustees, but in 1933 was conveyed to the Church Pastoral Aid Society.
The organ was a three manual built in 1897 by Hope-Jones. It was re-built by William Hill & Son in 1905, and removed to St. Andrew and St. George, Stevenage in 1989, where it was rebuilt as a two manual by Peter Wood. From 1933 to 1937 the organist was Dr. Sidney Campbell, later organist at Canterbury Cathedral & St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.
Rev Douglas Falkland Carey was a curate at St. Matthew's from 1899 to 1901, he became Chaplain at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst and served in France during the First World War. He was later made Dean of Guernsey.
About 1900 St. Matthew's opened a mission in Vicarage Lane. This was destroyed by bombing in 1942 during the Second World War and the sale of the site was authorized in 1951. A block of flats named St Matthew's Court now stands on the site.
The population of the parish in 1901 was 8,973 and in 1903 attendances were 411 for the Morning Service and 409 for the Evening Service, plus another 169 and 150 at the Vicarage Lane Mission.
In 1912 Canon Pelly founded the West Ham Evangelical Trust, to promote the teaching of 'the Protestant and evangelical party in the Church of England' within the parish of All Saints, West Ham and that of St. Matthew, West Ham, and to provide an income for church building maintenance. Its practical scope was later widened to include poor-relief and prizes for school children. By 1964 its total income was £82.
By 1912 the vicars salary was £350, with a residence at 207 Romford Road. In 1969 number 12 Clova Road became the vicarage.
St Matthew's suffered the post-war decline of so many inner city churches. By the end of the sixties St Matthew's was considered for closure. However a faithful few fought to keep the church open.
In 1968 St. Matthew's Parish was joined with that of St. Saviour, Forest Gate and a team ministry established in 1976. In 2013 the two parishes were again separated.
St Matthew's has grown both in numbers and spiritually. We have seen God's hand at work as each vicar has brought to us what we needed and revealed to us more of God's purpose for our congregation. We have grown to be a multicultural fellowship; with members from the UK, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia, people from all walks of life and many different parts of the world. We are a good representation of the local population and, as we grow closer together and learn more about each other, it provides us excellent training for our long term plans for outreach into the community, both for social action and evangelism.
A List of Incumbents
1896 - 1901 - Alfred Armitage
1901 - 1909 - Herbert Edward Selwyn
1909 - 1923 - Oswald Gosney (Priest in Charge)
1924 - 1933 - Thomas Henry Evans
1933 - 1945 - Henry Warwick Nevill
1945 - 1947 - Oswald Canning Gould
1947 - 1956 - Frederick George Nevell
1965 - 1972 - George Greswell Delevinge
1972 - 1979 - Alan Stewart Costerton (Team Vicar)
1979 - 1985 - Robert Love (Team Vicar)
1985 - 1991 - Paul Bowtell (Team Vicar)
1991 - 1993 - Roger Garnet (Team Curate)
1993 - 1997 - Ray Lewis (Team Vicar)
1997 - 1999 -
1999 - 2010 - Modicum Okello (Team Vicar)
2011 - 2012 - Julia Murphy (Team Vicar & Chaplain to Westfield)
2012 - 2015 - David Richards (Interim Priest In Charge)
2013 - 2015 - Christiana Asinugo (Associate Minister & Chaplain to Westfield)
2015 - Now - Christiana Asinugo (Priest in Charge & Chaplain to Westfield)
A List of Curates & Associates (incomplete)
1896 - 1903 - Oswald Gosney
1899 - 1901 - Douglas Falkland Carey
1905 - 1914 - Arthur Septimus Trudgett
1950 - ???? - C.J.E. (John) LeFroy
2015 - Now - David Richards (Associate Priest)