St. Matthew’s at-the-Elephant church site was bought from the Lion Street Baptist Chapel, built as a Victorian showpiece and re-opened in July 1864 and consecrated in 1867. The total cost of the building was £9,300, of which £5,000 was donated by Robert Stephen Falkoner, a local businessman and philanthropist.
By 1988, it became obvious that it was impossible to meet the costs of maintaining the monumental structure so a more cost friendly structure was conceived and designed by parishioners spearheaded by the then Rector Angus Galbraith.
On Sunday 5th December 1993, the Bishop of Southwark, Bishop Roy Williamson, dedicated the church.
The new and smaller church and community centre alongside a housing project, was opened by Diana, Princess of Wales on December 10, 1993 and consecrated same day by the Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey. A bell on a raised frame replaces the long spire signalling a place of worship. It rings every Sunday morning.
The stained glass window, to the design of Pamela Hunt, shows the hopeful scene of the ascendant Christ. This is housed in a triangular reveal set deep into the roof due to the shallow slope of this pitch. This window and its message of hope and redemption provide a fitting culmination to the route through the building. In the words of Angus Galbraith: “We wanted to give a place to celebrate the community of hope in their difficulties and
suffering…a light at the end of the tunnel.”