St Martin’s History

Thompson is an ancient settlement dating from the 10th century and the church of St Martin dates from approximately 1300. Our timeline shows a fascinating history since its endowment as a Collegiate Church in 1349 and the building of the college in which six priests resided. Several influential people have been associated with the church, including John Pory, who was born in Thompson in 1572 and became the first Speaker of the first Legislative Assembly in Virginia, and Prince Frederick Duleep Singh who helped save the church 100 years ago.

Our church is once again in need of help.  Although we have saved the nave roof  from falling by repairing the rafter ends which had rotted away with only thin clay lump walls preventing the roof from spreading we still have a lot of work to do.  We repaired the roof just in time with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund and have saved the roof from collapse but would like to repair the rest of the church to save it for future generations.

Why is St Martin's so important?

It has a rare 5 cant scissor-braced nave roof which we have recently restored.

It is a unique and largely unmodernised gem of historic importance; a Grade 1 listed mediaeval building, said to be the finest example of the Decorated style in East Anglia.

It has many unusual medieval and Jacobean features which need to be preserved.

The problem
for this unique building...


The roof structure is a rare example from the first half of the 14th century of a scissor braced roof and consists of 40 pairs of rafters. Sadly the rafter ends had rotted away and only thin clay lump walls prevented the roof from spreading.  Luckily we caught the problem just in time and have repaired each of the 80 rafter ends using traditional techniques and new materials to match existing. The work was far more extensive than originally envisaged and although we had a generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund we also managed to secure extra funding from many generous donors.

If we are to continue with our restoration project we still have a shortfall of at least £100,000 and still need YOUR HELP.

So far the PCC has engaged with the HLF, architects, cost consultants, archaeologists, churchyard wildlife and internal fabric experts. Despite all their expertise the shortfall remains very real but we are determined to meet it head on with YOUR assistance.
St Martin’s history is local, national and international (especially through Prince Frederick Duleep Singh and John Pory’s association with the first Virginia Legislative Assembly).
These prestigious links must never be lost. Your donations will ensure this historical gem in the beautiful Norfolk countryside will attract visitors from home and overseas.

Your donations will:

• Help to re-focus religious and community activities in the church and its immediate surrounds.

• Enhance community cohesion and outreach (local, national and international).

• Using the church as backdrop, enable the PCC to deliver hands on experience to visitors of archaeology, history, heritage, education
and enactment.

• Secure the mediaeval fabric and associated artwork.

• Protect the environment, ecology and wildlife.

There is a lot to do, enable and deliver.

How you can donate

Just Giving Page

Revitalising St Martin’s Church, Thompson, Norfolk

Revitalising St Martin's Just Giving Page

Cash or cheque

Cheques and cash can be sent/delivered to:
The Treasurer, College Farm, College Farm Lane, Thompson, Thetford IP24 1QG

Online banking transfer (BACS)

Bank account name: Revitalising St Martin’s
Sort Code: 20 28 20
Account Number: 9391.4356

Latest News

Christmas Quiz

October 16, 2019

We are holding another of our popular Quiz Nights on Tuesday 3rd November in the Thompson Community Hall Tickets are only £3 each Doors Open 7pm Quiz starts at 7.30pm Bring your own drinks/snacks Teams of 4 or we can help you make up a team Raffle Prize for the best Christmas hat!

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Treasure Hunt

August 15, 2019

Thanks to Derek Webb for organising a fun afternoon of treasure hunting round the winding roads of Wayland on 11th August.  Everyone had a fantastic time and raised funds for St Martin’s.  The result was a tie for first place for Kate & Catherine Winslow and Mark & Debbie Hickman.  We can’t wait for the…

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Heritage Weekend

August 15, 2019

Thompson Village & St Martin’s combined forces over the weekend of 26th, 27th & 28th July for a weekend of talks, music, flowers & history. The weekend started on Friday evening with a talk by Peter Bance on Prince Frederick Duleep Singh and his connections with Thompson, Merton & Breckles. The Community Hall was open…

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Prince Frederick Duleep Singh and his connections with Thompson, Merton & Breckles

July 26, 2019

Peter Bance gave a fascinating talk at St Martin’s tonight all about Prince Frederick Duleep Singh. This was followed by Bronwen Tyler explaining his connections with Thompson and Ann Cuthbert spoke on living in same house that Prince Frederick lived in when he lived in Breckles. Prince Frederick Duleep Singh (1868 -1926) was the third…

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Tuning the Organ & Getting Ready for our Concert of Music for a Summer Evening

July 25, 2019

W A Boggis came today to tune the organ so it is in tip top condition for our Music for a Summer Evening concert on Saturday evening. We still have tickets left so just turn up on the night and buy your tickets at the door. Thank you to Pam for cleaning the church and…

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Summer Pop Up Supper Club

May 13, 2019

We had another pop up supper club at College Farm on Thursday. 18 people came and enjoyed a delicious menu created by our wonderful catering team, Annabel, Sandie & Katharine. The evening was a huge success and we raised £300 for St Martin’s. Thank you to everyone who came and supported us and we look…

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Happy Easter

April 21, 2019

Over 70 people came to St Martin’s today to celebrate Easter. The sun shone brightly and we were able to leave the door open for our service. It was wonderful to have so many at our service and we even ran out of hymn books. Special thanks to Adrian for such a good service; Karen…

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Music for a Summer Evening

April 12, 2019

7.30pm on Saturday 27th July at St Martin’s, Thompson Featuring: Diss Guitar Ensemble Karen Harries – Mezzo Soprano A Capella Men’s Voices Tickets only £15 each to include wine & food during the interval. Tickets are available from: angie.mcdonald@me.com 01953.851.494 info@collegefarmnorfolk.co.uk 01953.483.318 The concert is part of the Thompson Village Heritage Weekend celebrations on Saturday…

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Easter Quiz

April 2, 2019

We are holding an Easter Quiz in Thompson Community Hall on Tuesday 16th April. Doors will open at 7pm and the Quiz will begin at 7.30pm. There will be a prize for the winning team as well as a prize for the best Easter Bonnet! Come in a team of 4 or we can add…

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Spring Pop Up Supper Club

February 19, 2019

We held our first pop up supper club on Friday 15th February at College Farm. Our 4 in house chefs prepared the most delicious supper for everyone and we raised an amazing £360 profit (after expenses) to go towards our restoration fund. A huge thank you to everyone who came and supported us and we…

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History timeline

10th Century

Original settlement of Tumi’s Tun


Church building began


Endowment as a Collegiate Church by de Shardelowe brothers in response to Black Death of 1348. College built


Joan de Shardelowe became a religious votary

15th Century

South transept chapel and other additions created


Dissolution: Surrender of St Martin’s to Henry VIII


John Pory born in Butters Hall; MP and first Speaker of the first Legislative Assembly in Virginia

17th Century

Restoration of church by Futter family, new lords of the manor


Church suffering from neglect: lack of clergy; in need of repair. Roof thatched


Rev George Crabbe’s materials for a History of Thompson published posthumously


Church under threat of closure. Restored by Prince Frederick Duleep Singh and Rev Charles Kent


1st World War Memorial unveiled by Prince Frederick Duleep Singh


Now, 100 years later, we are once again faced with saving our beloved church

lottery logo

Contact us

If you would like more information about the renovations or would like to discus making a donation then please write to The Treasurer St Martin's Church, c/o College Farm, Thompson, Thetford IP24 1QG, get in touch by phone on 01953 483.318 or fill in the form below.

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