St Matthews Church of the Nazarene

Paisley Doors Open Day 2019

During the time I lived in Paisley, I was never once inside this church, despite it being in a spot I passed often. It sits in a slightly odd position in the middle of a large, busy junction — one which I had driven through many, many times.

St Matthews Church of the Nazarene, Paisley, exterior view.

It’s not a Church of Scotland and I don’t know very much about the denomination it is a part of — something that I should really consider remedying because any time I have been inside this church, the people I have met have been genuine, kind and caring.

It was my writing that brought me back here. I saw an opportunity promoted on Facebook, asking for creative writing tutors for a bi-weekly series of therapeutic writing workshops as part of the bid for Paisley to be the 2021 City of Culture. Sadly, this bid was unsuccessful, but even the attempt seems to have awakened something in the town that had long been missing, and it’s nice to see so much regeneration.

It was also the first step I took to reconciling myself with the rather difficult relationship I have with my home-town and one I don’t regret making. I met a great many fantastic people there, many of whom I am still in contact with.

But anyway, back to the church!

The interior is impressive and the church seems to be much larger on the inside than it appears from outside. It is hard to imagine how the entire church not to mention numerous halls, fit on the tiny piece of land cramped in the middle of a dual carriageway! It has been designed in an Art Nouveau style inside and generally seems to have maintained many of its original features.

It was completed in 1907 as St George’s United Free Church. The architect was a member of the congregation called William David McLennan and was originally intended to have a large spire, but this was abandoned due to costs. In 1929 it became a Church of Scotland and was renamed St Matthews some time after this. In 1988 it closed due to a falling role and re-opened as a Church of the Nazarene.

The building’s style is described by Historic Scotland as an “Art Nouveau interpretation of Perpendicular gothic” (link) and it is the Art Noveau features that really make this building something very special. Although these exist in the main church, it in itself, is more gothic in nature. It is in the halls and corridors of the church building that the Art Nouveau features are most apparent. From the doors and windows, to the coat hooks and umbrella stands it is well worth a visit just to have a look at a still functioning building in this amazing style.

There were also a number of old records on display, including the cradle roll. And if we had waited a bit longer, there was to be an organ recital later on in the day. Even though it was only our first visit of the day, we didn’t say no to a cup of tea and a cake in one of the church halls! Absolutely worth a visit.

Writing Prompt

Is there a church or other religious building nearby? Have you ever been inside? What do you know about the history of that congregation? What do you see the church doing in the community? See what you can find out and see if any ideas for stories or articles can be found in what you have discovered.

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