The ‘Devil’s acre’: St Matthew's School
© Jane Kennedy, 2012
Many primary schools in England can trace their origins back to the nineteenth century and quite a number were established with the support of the Church of England and the National Society before education became compulsory in1870.
What later became St Matthew’s Church of England Primary School is one of these schools and formed one of the initiatives in the parish to improve the area.
The Revd Richard Malone describes the very early history of the school:
‘The great effort of raising more than £6,000 to build large schools [there was a separate school for boys and girls in the 19th century] occupied several years. When the site of a large court adjoining the Church was purchased, the neighbours [in the Devil’s Acre] immediately stripped the houses of floors, lead and bricks, and beneath the debris was found a quantity of base coin.
It was a depressing day when, as was supposed, all claims for the building had been met, a balance of nearly £300 was found deficient. I cannot easily forget the day when I went to the Bank with a sad heart and was told that some few hours before an anonymous donor had paid into the school account the amount required’. 
According to the list of key dates in the first fifty years of St Matthew’s, Westminster in the St Matthew’s Parish magazine the schools were opened on 4 January 1859.
There are still very close links between St Matthew’s Westminster and St Matthew’s School. Mass is celebrated every week in school by the clergy, assisted by the pastoral assistants from the church. The school attends the church for special services during the year and also participates in community masses on Sundays.