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

Shrove Tuesday Pop Up Supper Club

March 8, 2020

Thank you to everyone who came to our Shrove Tuesday Pop Up Supper Club on Tuesday 25th February. We raised a fantastic £430 after expenses! We had a full house with tickets selling out within 48 hours. Our menu consisted of: Parma Ham & Melon Pancakes with either Smoked Haddock or Ham & Asparagus Deconstructed…

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Quiz Night 21st February

March 8, 2020

Thank you to everyone who came along on Friday 21st February to our first quiz of 2020. Quiz Master Mark and his lovely assistant, Debbie, prepared an excellent quiz and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the evening. After expenses we raised a fantastic £150 towards the restoration of St Martin’s. Congratulations to the winning team, Bronwen, Terry,…

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Shrove Tuesday Pop Up Supper Club

February 5, 2020

Tickets sold out within 24 hours for our Shrove Tuesday Pop Up Supper Club which will be held on Tuesday 25th February. We are making plans to be able to fit more people in so we can sell more tickets so more of you can come next time and enjoy a delicious homemade three course…

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Quiz Night Friday 21st February

February 5, 2020

We are holding another of our popular Quiz Nights on Friday 21st February 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

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Events at St Martins for 2020

February 4, 2020

Saturday 15th February Showcase Day at Thompson Community Hall Friday 21st February Quiz at Thompson Community Hall Tuesday 25th February Pop Up Supper Club at College Farm Saturday 7th March Grand Second Hand Book Sale at Thompson Community Hall Sunday 10th May WWII Family Day Saturday 6th June Grand Second Hand Book Sale at Thompson…

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Another Successful Pop Up Supper

November 20, 2019

Edit By Katharine | November 20, 2019 | 0 We had another successful pop up supper club at College Farm on Friday 15th December. Special thanks to our in house catering team, Annabel, Sandie & Katharine, ably assisted by Angus & John, who produced a delicious Lebanese inspired menu. The evening was a huge success…

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Autumn Pop Up Supper Club

November 8, 2019

Our next Pop Up Supper Club is on Friday 15th November at College Farm. Tickets are only £20/head for a delicious homemade three course dinner. Tickets are £20 each from Katharine on 01953.483.318 or by BACS to: St Martin’s Church Thompson Barclays, Watton Sort Code:   20.28.20 Account No: 3086.9465 As always, space are limited…

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Christmas Quiz

October 16, 2019

We are holding another of our popular Quiz Nights on Tuesday 3rd December 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! PCC &…

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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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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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