Visit Hidden Britain


St. Matthews Church, Dendron

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 times.

St Matthews Church







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 here’.

George Romney the famous portrait painter attended Dendron School (1745) but was removed by his father having made little progress!

Interior viewThe ‘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