A Short History
St Matthew’s is the only Garrison Church in Western Australia, it was the first church to be built in the Swan Parish, although originally it was not consecrated at St Matthew's. It was a rectangular mud-brick church, measuring 40ft x 20ft x 11ft high, built on land donated by Governor James Stirling on his Woodbridge estate, at the east end of Terrace Road next to where Guildford Grammar School Chapel now stands.
Governor Stirling laid the foundation stone on September 6 1836 and it was opened a few months later before it was finished. It wasn’t completed until 1839. The church was built for the Mission Society and had one door at the west end with a little porch to give protection.
The roof was of shingles.
In 1842 the area was surveyed for a school, which was built next door at the beginning of York Road. This was an octagonal building not dissimilar to the building erected on the Colonial Church Society land in Middle Swan, later to become St Mary's Church.
St Matthew's was consecrated on November 23 1848 by Bishop Short from Adelaide when he was travelling through Western Australia blessing and consecrating a large number of churches that had been built for Anglican worship. Western Australia at that time was part of the Adelaide diocese.
St Matthew’s became the separate parish of Guildford in 1854. At that time the school was abandoned and moved to Market Street, Guildford.
The octagonal building was given to the Roman Catholic Church in 1854.
The second St Matthew’s Church was built on the present site in Stirling Square and was consecrated by Bishop Hale on September 21 1860. The original church in Terrace Road was later demolished, leaving only the graveyard which still remains. The new brick building with a roof of shingles was destroyed in a hurricane in 1872 during a baptismal service. No-one was hurt but only the harmonium and a few books could be saved.
The present church building was erected in1873.