The Parish Church

of

St John 

the Baptist

Mathon

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HISTORY

 

The earliest mention of Mathon (village) was in the days of Ethelred the Unready (968-1016). The Domesday Book of 1085 records a priest in Mathon which usually means that there was a church. The current building was erected in the eleventh century probably by the occupant of Church Farm and local people. It is possible to get an idea as to its dimensions from the herringbone masonry under the eaves of the external South wall. 

 

The services were probably taken by a priest from Pershore Abbey, who were the patrons of the living until the dissolution of the monasteries when Henry VIII gave the church and lands to the Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey. The latter are still the patrons of the living. 

 

The Vicars of Mathon are listed inside the church starting with 1284. Before this services were probably taken by a monk from Pershore Abbey. 

 

Outside the west door there is a flat stone at the base larger than a tomb stone and without an inscription - surmised to be a `Hiring Stone'. Before people could read or write and knew nothing of agreements or contracts, those farmers requiring dairymaids, herdsmen, ditchers or diggers would place some coins upon the `Hiring Stone' and whoever picked them up would be hired. Taking place near the church made the practice sacred and thus binding on master and workman alike. 

 

A base remains of the cross opposite the South Porch. This was most likely a Churchyard Cross which identified hallowed ground for burials before tombstones were introduced in the seventeenth century.  Close by is the Yew tree, emblem of immortality. It is over 900 years old and has a girth of more than 22 feet.

 

The South Porch dates from the 15th / 16th Century.  The Norman planted rope ornamentation work over the door was probably done by Saxon workmen employed at Pershore Abbey. 

Inside the Church Roof the seven-bayed roof of the nave is a fine example of 14th Century timber work.

The Eight-sided Font is thought to be a reminder that Jesus was only eight days old when he was taken into the Temple by his mother to be made a Son of the Law and received into the congregation. 

The Tower was added in the 14th century. It is thought that it was originally built as a look-out and the bell rung as a warning of impending danger. People (and animals?) would then seek refuge in the tower

The Bells: Mathon has a ring of six bells, cast by Abraham Rudhall of Gloucester in 1760, and the Sanctus bell by John Martin in 1675. In 1950 the oak frame had to be replaced by an iron and steel one. The work, carried out by John Taylor & Sons of Loughborough, cost 700, which was raised by public subscription and local fund-raising efforts. One bell was re-cast at this time, and bears the names of the vicar, Rev. P. B. Thorburn, and the churchwardens, M. F. Higgins, H. Fitzer. This was the E flat bell, number 2.

The Church-wardens Chest, appears to be made from the solid trunk of a tree with three separate lockable compartments. It was used to store church monies, valuables, registers and vestments. Although dated 1698 with the names of wardens, it is probably earlier.

The Organ installed in 1866, was made by Messrs. Bevington of London and is regarded as a splendid instrument of its size and period. It was overhauled, refurbished and extended in 1992 at a cost of 8,000 met by local funding and memorials.

The Aisle Floor Tablets, commemorate the Cliffes and Dangerfields, prominent local families and just below the Chancel Step is a diamond-shaped tablet, inscribed to the effect that the lady buried beneath "desired never to be removed by humane (human) hands".

The Windows in the East End are 12th Century.  In the windowsill of the windows near the Sanctuary on the north and south sides there is a mediaeval slab engraved with a cross. It is probably a lid from a stone coffin, found within the church during renovations in 1897.

Aumbry (or cupboard) carved in the north wall held the sacred Communion Bread and Wine.

The Tomb on the north side of the Sanctuary bears effigies of Jane Walweyn, her husband and tiny child. The carving is dated 1617 and clearly shows the distinctive period dress.

The Sink on the south side, inside the Communion Rails is for the disposal of the water in which the Chalice was washed. Of note is the large wooden stopper.

The Priest's Stall and The Communion Rails were carved from oak by a Hereford craftsman and added in 1944-45, the cost of 350 being born by local subscription.
The Priest's Door is to be found on the south side of the Chancel behind a curtain (note the very thick walls). The priest, already robed for the service, would come from his lodging at the Manor (now Church Farm opposite) and enter by this door.

 

 

 

Mathon Parochial Church Council, 2015