A beautiful little rural church serving the small villages
of Gleaston and Leece and the hamlet of Dendron ( which means ‘
a sheltering place for deer’ or ‘a place shaded by trees’),
all formerly farming communities but now much changed…
The church was built as a Chapel of Ease in 1642 at
the cost of Robert Dickinson, citizen of London, formerly of Leece;
he provided funds for Divine Service to be read on Sundays and for
the children to be taught during the week.
It is a fine and important architectural example in
the North of that troubled period in the history of our nation and
in itself reflects the political and religious struggles of the
The first Curate was appointed in 1671, the previous
years seeing the occasional ministry of several itinerant preachers
many of whom had been dispossessed of their ‘livings’
by Cromwell’s ‘Commonwealth’.
George Fox, the famous Quaker late of Swarthmoor Hall,
preached here in 1652 and noted that ‘no priest has ever preached
George Romney the famous portrait painter attended
Dendron School (1745) but was removed by his father having made
‘new’ school was built opposite the church on what was
the cockpit in 1833; the church was enlarged and a tower and vestry
added at that time.
The ‘horse-box’ pews were replaced in 1891.
In May 1892 St. Matthew’s became a Parish
church in its own right with the then Curate, Revd M H Hayman as
its first Vicar. He was one of the sons of Revd.Doctor Hayman, Rector
of Aldingham and former Head of Rugby School (and thereby hangs
a tale!). It has since become part of the Low Furness Group of Parishes.
Careful maintenance has continued over the years, the
last major repair being a new roof in 1991, and in 2002 beautiful
locally made new oak doors were fitted to this peaceful little church.
An ideal place to ‘be still and know’ it
is a popular venue for Quiet Days.
More history of
St. Matthew's church