History

History

Tradition has it that there has been a Christian place of worship on the site occupied by the present church since the 11th century with the first definite evidence of a building dating from 1350.

Extensions were added and alterations made to this building over the following four centuries but, by 1767, the building was starting to deteriorate and was described as being in a ruinous condition and unsafe for the parishoners. As a result, an Act Of Parliament in 1768 provided the authority necessary for the demolition of the building and its replacement by a newly constructed church – that in which we worship today.

Anthony Keck was appointed as surveyor to be in charge of the construction of the new church which would take 4 years to complete at a cost of £2,215. Keck decided that the church would be built of Staffordshire Blue brick set on a 3 foot base of stone.

The new church of St. Martin saw its first service on 8th October, 1772 with the address given by the Rev. Dr. T Tottie, Canon of Christ Church, Oxford. Only thirty years passed before alterations and additions started in the new building with the decade from 1810 seeing a number of developments. In 1811 the West Gallery was added in order to provide additional seating and also to raise additional revenue. It was common for charges to be levied for seating at that time and a survey of 1817 shows that only 200 of the 560 seats were free. Such charges continued for the greater part of another century with the final abandonment of seating charges oin 1904.

A year after the building of the West Gallery an Elliott organ was installed into it but, despite the new instrument, contemporary reports make it clear that the music on offer was considerably below the high standards which we enjoy today.

The final improvement of a busy decade was the addition of gas lighting in 1819.

The next impetus for improvements came from the Rev. Thomas Wheeler who was Rector from 1851 to 1872. The present Victorian-Gothic east window dates from this period as do most of the other stained glass windows. These additions, which we still enjoy today, were mainly as a result of the effort and financial support of Father Wheeler.