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

Tuning the Organ & Getting Ready for our Concert of Music for a Summer Evening

July 25, 2019

W A Boggis came today to tune the organ so it is in tip top condition for our Music for a Summer Evening concert on Saturday evening. We still have tickets left so just turn up on the night and buy your tickets at the door. Thank you to Pam for cleaning the church and…

Read More

Summer Pop Up Supper Club

May 13, 2019

We had another pop up supper club at College Farm on Thursday. 18 people came and enjoyed a delicious menu created by our wonderful catering team, Annabel, Sandie & Katharine. The evening was a huge success and we raised £300 for St Martin’s. Thank you to everyone who came and supported us and we look…

Read More

Happy Easter

April 21, 2019

Over 70 people came to St Martin’s today to celebrate Easter. The sun shone brightly and we were able to leave the door open for our service. It was wonderful to have so many at our service and we even ran out of hymn books. Special thanks to Adrian for such a good service; Karen…

Read More

Music for a Summer Evening

April 12, 2019

7.30pm on Saturday 27th July at St Martin’s, Thompson Featuring: Diss Guitar Ensemble Karen Harries – Mezzo Soprano A Capella Men’s Voices Tickets only £15 each to include wine & food during the interval. Tickets are available from: angie.mcdonald@me.com 01953.851.494 info@collegefarmnorfolk.co.uk 01953.483.318 The concert is part of the Thompson Village Heritage Weekend celebrations on Saturday…

Read More

Easter Quiz

April 2, 2019

We are holding an Easter Quiz in Thompson Community Hall on Tuesday 16th April. Doors will open at 7pm and the Quiz will begin at 7.30pm. There will be a prize for the winning team as well as a prize for the best Easter Bonnet! Come in a team of 4 or we can add…

Read More

Spring Pop Up Supper Club

February 19, 2019

We held our first pop up supper club on Friday 15th February at College Farm. Our 4 in house chefs prepared the most delicious supper for everyone and we raised an amazing £360 profit (after expenses) to go towards our restoration fund. A huge thank you to everyone who came and supported us and we…

Read More


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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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!

Read More

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

lottery logo

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.

Please enter your name.
Please enter a message.