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

Latest News

St Martins coat of Arms

A Mediaeval response to the aftermath of a time of crisis in Thompson

April 27, 2020

A Mediaeval response to the aftermath of a time of crisis in Thompson Instead of dwelling on the only previous time in our history to compare with the current Covid-19 crisis, I am focussing on the measures taken in the aftermath.  But first a little background. The Black Death, as it is usually known, was…

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Second Sunday of Easter

April 21, 2020

NoticesWelcome to the Second Sunday of Easter – today we should have been at Great Hockham Church and so our prayers are with the congregation there. Thank you so much for your Easter messages and thoughts and our prayers are with you. Hopefully soon we will be able to resume church services. Also I would…

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Easter Day

April 21, 2020

Jesus is Risen Alleluia!This is the first year since my confirmation at the age 11 that I have not taken communion at Easter in church, but thankfully we can have a service at home. Along with thousands of people in our country we are in ‘lock-down’ for the sake of the NHS and its staff…

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Holy Week

April 21, 2020

HOLY WEEK – A MESSAGE FROM REV ADRIAN BELLDuring Holy Week I have created 5 short homilies and a reading for you to use as well as including the ancient Office of Compline used in monasteries and religious houses and we would have used it at Great Hockham.Please keep safe, and please remember that we…

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Palm Sunday

April 21, 2020

In 1980, my mother-in-law, who was German, took us to see the Oberammergau Passion play in Germany and we had an amazing time. With my wife’s mother fluent in German we had a gastronomic and historical tour of Bavaria and ended up seeing this wonderful play. In Oberammergau we stayed overnight with a Bavarian family…

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Passion Sunday

April 21, 2020

Certainly we have had an extraordinary week and my thoughts and prayers are with you all. Having worked in my early days in the priesthood in Sheffield in some very deprived areas, my heart goes out to those who are isolated in blocks of flats or in poor conditions. I don’t know what I would…

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Mothering Sunday

April 21, 2020

I am sorry that we can’t have our Mothering Sunday Service at Stow Bedon Church but there will be another year. Last time we had over 50 people at the service and Stow Church always looks so beautiful for the occasion. I can remember as a child hunting through the shops to buy a Mothering…

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Coronavirus Update From the Bishop of Norwich

March 24, 2020

  COVID-19 The Church continues to be alive and active but our buildings must close   We are seeing a huge increase in the number of people falling sick with COVID-19. We must distance ourselves from one another and prevent the spread of infection in order to save lives. Therefore, as well as public worship…

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Corona Virus

March 18, 2020

We have received the following from the Diocese: “In light of the Government guidance around non-essential contact, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued advice that public worship is suspended until further notice. Churches should be open where possible but with no public worship services taking place. Prayers can be said by clergy and ministers on behalf of everyone and churches should consider ways of…

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Second Hand Book Sale

March 8, 2020

We had the first of our Second Hand Book Sales for 2020 on Saturday 7th March. As always, there was a good turn out with people coming from far and wide looking for lots of book bargains and delicious homemade scones & cakes.

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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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