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


January 21, 2019

This Sunday we will be celebrating Candlemas at our 10.30am service. The Gospel of Luke says that Jesus was met by Anna and Simeon. Simeon held the baby Jesus and called him a Light to the World. Candlemas commemorates the ritual purification of Mary, 40 days after the birth of her son Jesus. This day…

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Valentine Dinner Friday 15th February

January 19, 2019

Come along to College Farm on Friday 15th February and enjoy dinner cooked by our wonderful St Martin’s Catering Team! Tickets are only £20 each and places are limited to just 20. A delicious 3 course home made dinner will be served at 7pm and all you need to do is book your ticket(s), come…

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Happy New Year!

January 6, 2019

Happy New Year! The PCC of St Martin’s would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a peaceful and healthy 2019. The world is a troubled & turbulent place at the moment and we are very lucky to be living in relative peace & prosperity in our corner of Norfolk. We have many…

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Happy Christmas

December 19, 2018

Come and join us on Christmas Eve at 11.30pm for our candlelit service. We will be serving mulled wine from 11pm to help you get into the Christmas spirit!

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December 3, 2018

This evening we marked the start of advent by the lighting of our Advent candle and singing a few Christmas carols in the porch.  This Friday (7th) everyone is welcome to join us at 6.30pm as we gather to light our Christmas tree and sing a few carols.  We will then process through the village…

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Christmas Quiz

November 11, 2018

We will be holding our Christmas Quiz at 7.30pm on Thursday 22nd November in the Thompson Community Hall.  Doors will open at 7pm and there is a prize for the best Christmas Hat! Come in teams of 4 – or we can put you in a team. Only £3/head but bring your own food &…

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Service of Rededication

October 8, 2018

The Bishop of Lynn, assisted by Adrian Bell, our Interim Priest, rededicated St Martin’s on Sunday following the successful conclusion of the first part of our restoration programme.  The church was completely packed for this important service in our history and it was standing room only at the back.  During the service the Bishop not…

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Service of Rededication 4pm Sunday 7th October

September 22, 2018

Everyone is invited to our service of rededication by the Bishop of Lynn at 4pm on Sunday 7th October   Following the short family service there will be tea, coffee, cake & a glass of bubbly!   Join us in celebrating our first service for 2 years following the restoration work on our beautiful, medieval…

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Norfolk Churches Trust Bike Ride

September 9, 2018

Pam & Katharine manned St Martin’s yesterday for the Norfolk Churches Trust Bike Ride.  There was hot tea & coffee, cold drinks, homemade cake and a tour of St Martin’s for everyone who came.  It was wonderful to be able to welcome people to St Martin’s again having been closed for the last two years. …

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Lavender’s Lunch

August 29, 2018

This Sunday, 2nd September, we are holding our annual lunch in memory of Lavender Garnier and hoping to raise lots more money for our restoration fund.  Please come and join us at 12 noon at College Farm, College Farm Lane, Thompson IP24 1QG (01953.483.318) for a delicious homemade lunch, good company and music from Pot…

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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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