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Church of Saint Matthew

A Grade II Listed Building in Dyffryn Clydach, Neath Port Talbot

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Latitude: 51.6833 / 51°40'59"N

Longitude: -3.8265 / 3°49'35"W

OS Eastings: 273824

OS Northings: 199857

OS Grid: SS738998

Mapcode National: GBR H2.507H

Mapcode Global: VH4JZ.MYFH

Entry Name: Church of Saint Matthew

Listing Date: 22 December 2003

Last Amended: 22 December 2003

Grade: II

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 82319

Building Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary

Location: In a prominent position on the W side of the minor road through Dyffryn.

County: Neath Port Talbot

Town: Neath

Community: Dyffryn Clydach

Community: Dyffryn Clydach

Locality: Dyffryn

Built-Up Area: Neath

Traditional County: Glamorgan

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Anglican parish church built 1871 to designs by John Norton of London and Bristol for Howel Gwyn of Dyffryn, died 1888. Rees Roderick of Margam was the contractor, the work cost £4,500 and the tower was completed 1875. Added vestry of 1884-5 and lean-to on W end of 1900. There was a brass chancel screen of 1884, removed in 1923-4 for present oak screen. The painted decorations were restored in 1934 under DM Davies JP.


Anglican parish church, squared rock-faced Pennant rubble stone (from Howel Gwyn's quarries) with Bath stone dressings and roofs of slates with bands of fishscale slating. The slates of nave roof are original of a pale grey colour, the other roofs have been renewed. Coped gables with stone cross finials, ashlar quoins, battered plinth, sill-course below windows. Early Decorated style. Tall narrow lancet windows to nave, traceried chancel and W windows. Ashlar eaves cornices, corbelled to chancel. Doors are generally pointed and roll-moulded. SW porch tower, nave, chancel with N vestry and organ chamber.
Tower is of two tall stages. High plinth with moulded top and moulded string-course continued from hoodmould of pointed S door. Door has double-chamfered and stopped sides, roll-moulded head, and pierced timber gates. Within porch, S doorway in deep pointed reveal with stencil decoration, both arches roll-moulded. Doors with big scroll hinges. NE corner Caernarfon arched door to tower stair. High panelled ceiling. Above outside S entry, statue of St Matthew on column linked to hoodmould apex, under gabled canopy. Above, on each face, is pair of small plain rectangular lights in ashlar pointed surround, then S side has clock in square ashlar surround. Bell-stage has big ashlar triple arcade with column shafts and triple hoodmould framing tall narrow louvred bell openings. Ashlar of bell-stage is recessed with corbelling over, Gothic cornice with gargoyles at angles, and Gothic pierced parapet. Tower E side has stair tower to right with chamfered top, below bell-stage level, both E and W sides have small lancet to ground floor. Nave S has one window to left of tower and two 2-light windows, paired lancets, to right of tower. W end has round-arched 3-light window with large octofoil in head, short columns as radiating bars, arched hoodmould continued as string course each side. Added lean-to of 1900 has ashlar parapet and centre small gable over pointed 2-light, S end has paired lancets with heads stepped to follow parapet slope and N end has pointed door. Nave N has tall lancets, a pair to right and three singles.
Chancel has more ornate corbelled cornice, at eaves, moulded plinth, traceried 2-light windows with quatrefoil in head, stone voussoirs and sill course, two windows on S one on N. S side has centre pointed door with sill course carried over as hoodmould, 5 steps up with low ashlar parapets. E end has sill course stepped up under large 3-light traceried window with column-shafts to mullions and double shafts to jambs, keel and roll mouldings, and large sexfoil in head. Hoodmould with carved head stops.
N vestry of 1884-5 is large with gabled W porch with pointed door and added lean-to boiler room to right. N end roundel with quatrefoil over 2 lancets, E side paired cusped lancets.


Fine High Victorian interior with stencil decoration to plastered walls and roofs. Nave roof is panelled in seven cants, divided by ribs into 4 bays. Ribs are chamfered and painted with florets, carried down on wall-posts to Gothic columns with carved leaf capitals on round bases carried on leaf corbels. Chamfered cornice with zigzag moulding, narrow band of vertical panels above, each with stencilled roundels with quatrefoils. Large panels to five canted sides have large quatrefoils and roundels in corners. Band of balls to panel borders. Nave floor with quarry tiles to aisle in three colours and ornate cast-iron grilles over heating pipes. Nave walls have painted decoration in brown on cream, brown dado, band of scroll above and patterning in window reveals and around window heads. Band of text at mid-height with stylised stencilled Gothic shafts down to dado level. Text reads 'My soul hath a desire and longing to enter into the courts of the Lord... mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually'. At W end is text 'He ascended into heaven and sitteth at the right hand of God the father almighty'. Nave has segmental pointed reveals to S door and windows.
Pointed chancel arch has 2 roll moulds and inner one is on corbelled column shaft on round plinth carried on a shorter plainer column shaft on a leaf corbel. Eroded painted text over (Magnificat) and painted scroll on arch soffit. Steps at chancel arch, after stalls and at sanctuary rails. Chancel roof with painted boarding between three tranverse arches of doubled ribs separated by band of pierced trefoils. Ribs are gold and red painted. Four sections of roof each have 6 painted quatrefoiled squares with censing angels on pale blue grounds. The ribs rest on big leaf corbels with stencilled frieze between. Chancel walls are stencilled with scattered stylised flowers over dado of Gothic arcading with diaper pattern infill. E wall has flowers and also two large crosses in roundels. E window is ornate with column shafting both to the tracery and sides, hoodmould with painted carved heads. Ornate reredos with flanking painted carved Gothic arcading in 3 bays. Arcading has cusping, marble shafts and linked triangular hoodmoulds. Stencil painting with fine roundels, symbols of Evangelists, Lamb of God and pelican, on diaper pattern ground, band of scroll above and cross roundels in heads. Between the hoodmoulds are IHS symbols. Much gilding. Ornate reredos is ashlar on marble shelf, of 3 bays with columns between, the shafts of dark veined marble with carved gilded caps, gables with apex marble spheres, gilded crockets and 3 cusped panels with carved mouldings and relief carvings of Last Supper, Crucifixion and Agony in the Garden. Panelled piers between gables with crocketted finials. S side has cusped pointed piscina and seat in reveal of window, the reveals cut-back to square with trefoil-head. N side has big chamfered segmental-pointed opening for organ.
Added 1900 W lean-to is brick-lined, even to W end of main church which suggests that it was intended from beginning. Caernarfon arch to door from nave and double diagonally-boarded doors. Big N vestry and organ-chamber has 6-sided boarded panelled roof, panelled dado and ornate metal E side metal radiator grille with marble top.
Fittings: Font of grey Caen stone, square slightly tapered large bowl with band of ballflower decoration below rim and large quatrefoil roundel each side, on 4 marble-shafted columns around centre big ashlar octagonal shaft. Exceptional font cover, the wooden square lid under a polished brass 4-sided pierced turret with sloping sides pierced with Gothic leaf patterns and carried on a chain from an ornate scrolled wrought-iron wall bracket. Ornate Caen stone pulpit with Gothic 3-sided front with cusped-pointed panels, column-shafted, and also thin column shafts at the angles. Centre panel has dark veined marble applied cross, right panel has IHS in vesica. Gothic leaf cornice, moulded base, on 4 columns with red granite shafts. Stone steps up with timber Gothic traceried rail linked to matching rail to chancel. The chancel rail is of 1923-4 to J. Moore-Gwyn, but the pulpit of 1870s. Reredos see above. Sanctuary rails with 6 Gothic wrought iron standards and moulded timber rail with ballflower ornament. Small brass eagle lectern on fine High Victorian cast-iron tripod base. Later C19 organ by Vowles of Bristol with painted pipes and Gothic pine casing, renovated 1962. Pitch-pine stalls with fleur-de-lys finials. Pitch-pine pews. On a table are two fine marble busts removed from Dyffryn, one of Howel Gwyn made at Rome 1835 by R.J. Wyatt the other of Mrs Gwyn made 1862 by Alfred Gatley. Tower bells and clock by Dent & Son of London installed 1875.
Stained glass: Fine 3-light W window of 1900 in late Gothic style, by Clayton & Bell, to H. Gwyn. W narthex 2-light probably of 1900 (under repair at time of survey). Nave S single light, Baptism given by H. Gwyn, c. 1880; two 2-light windows of four Evangelists. Nave N first window to J.E. Moore-Gwyn died 1923 and his wife died 1934, 2-light two conventional figures in pale colours. Second window 1900 to H. Gwyn, similar to W window in delicate late Gothic, 3 scenes of good works. Third window, St Cecilia to S. Moore died 1889 and fourth window St John the Baptist to H. Gwyn, both similar late C19 and similar to chancel N 2-light to Howel Gwyn, died 1888, faded, with portrait of H. Gwyn, and to S 2-light, also faded, Blessed are Pure in Heart to Rev. J. Moore died 1876. Adjoining window to Howel Gwyn, with portrait of him as Good Samaritan, not faded, may be by same firm, possibly Clayton & Bell like W window. Fine E three-light window of c. 1871 given by Howel Gwyn of Angel at Tomb, Resurrection and Jesus with St Mary Magdalen, and three small scenes below. In big sexfoil above, Christ the king and angels. Possibly by Clayton & Bell.

Reasons for Listing

Included as a well-detailed and furnished High Victorian estate church with surviving stencil decoration (cf St David's Church, Neath).

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