St Martin of Tours

The 'Old Church' of St Martin was built in the 1660s on the site of a probable earlier chapel dating from 1220.

About this church

Before this, it is believed to have been a pagan site. Items of interest include the yew tree which is over 1300 years old, a reading desk dating from 1634, the font which is believed to be part of a Roman altar and the tiny bell with inscrutable Lombardic characters no one can decipher.

Dedicated to St Martin of Tours, this small but special church was once the focal point of a thriving community despite its remote location.

The church is of simple plan form comprising a single rectangular space and an entrance porch at the west end, yet It has several interesting and ancient features. In 1882 it was restored, the roof having fallen in on the very date of the consecration of the neighbouring church of St Peter, during a violent January storm.

In 1714 the floor was flagged as the congregation were no longer prepared to tolerate the damp earth on which they were obliged to kneel!

At the time of the 1882 restoration the musician’s gallery was taken down and the old box pews replaced with the present day side benches, using the same wood.

As well as the ancient yew tree (from the branches of which it is probable that the famous Bowmen of Martindale made their bows), the churchyard has many interesting tombs including that of the first incumbent, Richard Birkett, who died in 1699 after a ministry of nearly 67 years.

Returning to the present day, the church is fully open and much visited, with all entries in the visitor’s book remarking on the special atmosphere and sense of peace which it conveys.

Evensong is sung on the last Sunday of the month from May to September, and occasional concerts are held where local musicians and some from further afield may be heard, thus keeping up the tradition of the old 'Gallery Singers' which were once a feature of this remarkable, though simple, building.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Fascinating churchyard

Visitors information

  • Steps to enter the church or churchyard
  • Car park at church
  • Dog friendly
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome

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