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.  The work to the nave roof was much more extensive, complex & unfortunately more expensive than we expected and as a result we have had to postpone works to the chancel roof, which is likely to be suffering from the same issues as the nave, and also the below ground rain water drainage system, without which the fabric of the church will not fully dry out. This is before we start on the interior....

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 £150,000 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

Lavender’s Lunch is Back!

August 9, 2021

What better way to celebrate life starting to get back to normal than coming to College Farm on Sunday 5th September for Lavender’s Lunch. Although life will never be quite the same again, we feel it is time to reinstate Lavender’s Lunch and invite you all to join us from 12.00 noon on Sunday 5th…

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2nd Sunday after Epiphany 17th January

January 17, 2021

Welcome to our service today. This on-line service will continue for the foreseeable future. Many thanks to Bella Sandcraft and Karen Allen who have proof-read this service! It is very sad that we are unable to have services at church at the moment but I will keep you posted, as everything is changing very quickly.…

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The Baptism of Christ – 1st Sunday after Epiphany 10th January

January 13, 2021

Welcome to our service today. This on-line service will continue for the foreseeable future. Many thanks to Bella Sandcraft and Karen Allen who have proof-read this service! It is very sad that we are unable to have services in church at the moment but I will keep you posted, as everything is changing very quickly. …

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Christmas 2: 3rd January 2021

January 5, 2021

Welcome to our service today. This on-line service will continue for the foreseeable future and at least until 6th February when the situation will be reviewed. Our priority is to keep everyone safe for now. Please be assured of our prayers at this time when greater restrictions on our movements have returned and we do…

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January Message from Adrian

January 5, 2021

Happy New Year May I begin my wishing you all a Happy New Year and thank you for all your help and support during the last year. I know that it has been a most difficult year for so many people in our community but we must face the future with hope and the assurance…

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Winter Memories

January 5, 2021

Winter Memories from Bronwen Tyler The recent prediction by scientists that snow in most parts of Britain may become a thing of the past, prompted some thoughts about winters in years gone by. We do not have a lot of written evidence of winter in long ago Thompson, other than an entry in the parish…

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Christmas Past in Thompson

January 4, 2021

What was Christmas like in Thompson years ago and what traditions were followed here? Thompson was an agricultural village with not a great deal of money to spend on luxuries so Christmas would have been a simple affair. Our first written information is from the school log books, which date from 1874, although the school…

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Christmas Eve

December 23, 2020

Sadly we have had to cancel the Christmas Eve midnight service & carols by the tree due to Covid-19 but instead we are going to keep the church open all day if anyone would like to go in for private prayer or just to sit and think. We wish you all a peaceful Christmas and…

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Face masks – a spiritual undertaking?

August 7, 2020

Many of us are struggling with the use of face coverings, but Andy Bryant suggests that the act of wearing them can have a spiritual significance. From next Sunday church-goers will face one less choice. The decision about whether to mask or not to mask has been resolved.  From August 8 masks will be required…

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A message from Bishop Graham

June 23, 2020

  A message from Bishop Graham Following the Prime Minister’s announcement today we can turn our attention to resuming public worship from 4 July. To be able to gather again for worship, even whilst socially distancing, will be a joy and solace for many, though I am also acutely aware of those who will continue…

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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

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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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