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....

Welcome Vanessa!

We are delighted to tell you that after an interview on Friday 15th March,  Bishop Jane has invited the Revd Vanessa Layfield to be our next Rector (House for Duty) in the Wayland benefice and Vanessa has accepted.   Bishop Graham will institute and Archdeacon Catherine will induct Vanessa to the post of Rector (House for Duty) on Thursday 4th July at 7.00pm at Holy Cross, Caston.


Please pray for Vanessa and her husband, Jonathan,  as they say their ‘goodbyes’ in her present benefice and prepare to move into the diocese.

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: Revi St Martin’s
Sort Code: 20 28 20
Account Number: 9391.4356

Latest News

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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Trinity Sunday – 7th June

June 7, 2020

Sadly today we will not have a service in our group of parishes as directed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and York and all the churches are closed. We hope that they open soon. Each week we will have a short sermon and some prayers and readings. If you want to chat on the telephone…

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Pentecost Sunday 31st May

June 4, 2020

Many people have contacted me to thank David and Rachel Butterworth from Breckles Hall for the wonderful cakes etc. they have given to people. Many thought that it was a gift from Fortnum and Masons!We will await directions regarding the re-opening of churches, and I will let you know as soon as possible.  The Government…

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Seventh Sunday of Easter

June 4, 2020

A Homily – The Sunday after the Ascension This week the Archbishop of Canterbury along with Prince William courageously emphasised the importance of remembering the problems of mental health. We know that 1 in 5 people will be affected by mental issues at some time during their lives, but up until recently it was never…

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Sixth Sunday of Easter

June 4, 2020

Rogation Sunday HomilyToday is Rogation Sunday which was encouraged by King Henry 8th. During that time there were processions around the fields in rural communities with clergy leading the occasions. This was supported by the national church following a period of prolonged rain in 16th Century which threatened to ruin crops. These processions were very…

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Fifth Sunday of Easter

June 4, 2020

I am hearing so many good things are happening in our communities with many people helping the housebound and needy. Griston Relief Charity is helping a number of people, Thorp House has received meals from the Waggon and Horses, many villages have arranged for the housebound to receive help, postman and those collecting refuse have…

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Fourth Sunday of Easter

June 4, 2020

Welcome to the 4th Sunday of Easter – today we should have been at Stow Bedon Church and so our prayers are with the congregation there. Also, it should have been the Wayland Show today and so our thoughts are with our farming community and also the many charities that would have been at the…

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Third Sunday of Easter

April 27, 2020

Homily – the Road of Emmaus Welcome to the Third Sunday of Easter – today we should have been at Breckles Church and so our prayers are with the congregation there. Last week our choir members came together for tea and cakes at Henry Hardiment’s home in Thompson but it actually it was on Zoom,…

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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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