The Glass Church
St Matthew’s started life in the 1840’s as a modest chapel of ease, built at the foot of Mont Felard to spare parishioners the long uphill trek to the ancient Parish Church of St Lawrence.
Over the next century, the hamlet of Millbrook flourished, from the coming of the Jersey Railway to the age when seaplanes landed on St Aubin’s Bay. Its greatest blossom was yet to flower.
A generous gift changed everything. Millbrook resident Florence Boot decided to honour her late husband Jesse, the owner of Boots the Chemist, by rebuilding the church in his memory. Alongside St Matthew’s, she gifted the beautiful Coronation Park to the people of Jersey. She commissioned the talents of René Lalique, artisan extraordinaire and the foremost glassmaker of the age, to decorate the entire church with his finest work. No similar Lalique commission survives anywhere else in the world.
The Glass Church
In September 1934, St Matthew’s became the Glass Church. Two frosted glass angels set in the double doors welcome you into this astonishing house of worship and work of art. The centrepiece is a shining, towering cross over three metres high, festooned with lilies and soaring over the altar. It is flanked by twin illuminated pillars and framed by four glass screens that shimmer like a wall of ice.
In the Lady Chapel, four immense crystalline angels, illuminated as if by heavenly fire, survey the worshippers. Their eyes are clear and wide, seemingly transfixed by the light that shines in the darkness, calling them home. The font is a marvel, forged in pure glass and autographed by Lalique himself. The iconic Jersey lily, a motif of purity, adorns everything. The subdued stonework of local architect A.B. Grayson beautifully complements Lalique’s work, providing an exquisitely pure canvas to magnify the power of light.
“Lalique’s glass has the ethereal brilliance of Arctic ice”, wrote a contemporary critic. This verdict still holds true 80 years after this beautiful gift was first bequeathed to the people of Jersey.
Today and Tomorrow
Today St Matthew’s remains a sublime work of art, a unique monument to the talents of René Lalique and one of Jersey’s hidden treasures. Above all, the magnificent glass cross, altar and angels are signposts – pointing the way to the power and majesty of the true and living God.