For years the people of Eye had worshipped in a small stone chapel dedicated to St Matthew. As the population of the village increased, it was decided that the village needed a new, larger church and commissioned George Basevi - an eminent architect and designer of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge - to draw up plans. Work had not even begun when he fell to his death while inspecting the bell tower at Ely Cathedral in late 1845. The work at Eye was taken over by F.T. Dollman and the new church, dedicated to St Matthew, was opened for worship on this day two years later. Despite its 'newness' some pieces from the past are incorporated in the present. One of the bells from the old church - made by Henry Penn of Peterborough in 1712 - remains; and the fourteenth-century font still welcomes newborns to the Christian faith. On the south side of the sanctuary is an old 'piscina' (used for washing sacred vessels after use) that was found in the vicarage garden in 1895, along with an unusual altar reredos memorial to the First World War, which not only remembers the fallen but the names of other villagers who served in the 'Great War'. (Bunch, Allan and Liquorice, Mary, Parish Churches in and around Peterborough, Cambridgeshire Books, 1990)
Taken from The Peterborough Book of Days by Brian Jones, The History Press, 2014.