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 Martin’s in the Snow

March 5, 2018

  St Martin’s looked beautiful in the snow last week.  

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Grant from The All Churches Trust

March 5, 2018

Thank you very much to the All Churches Trust for their generous grant towards our project.  We are very grateful for their support and the money will be out to good use!

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Grant from The Norfolk Churches Trust

January 24, 2018

Thank you very much to The Norfolk Churches Trust for their generous donation towards our project.  It is very much appreciated and the money will be put to good use.

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Progress Update 22nd January 2018

January 22, 2018

  There is an awful lot going on behind the scaffolding!  The roof coverings have been stripped off and the first 14 trusses have been uncovered to enable the architect and engineer to work out the best method of repairing the rotten rafter ends and to strengthen the roof. After our site meeting today we…

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Happy New Year!

January 3, 2018

Happy New Year from everyone on the St Martin’s Restoration team.  We hope you all had a peaceful & happy Christmas and a have healthy & happy new year.  September is a long way off but we wanted to give you plenty of notice to put the date of Lavender’s Lunch in your diaries –…

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Progress Update 1st December 2017

December 1, 2017

You will be aware that work has, at last, started on the church. This follows a year long Development phase during which the architect & engineer prepared drawings & specifications which were then put out to tender. We received the go ahead from HLF in September & we have now appointed Eastern Foundry Lead Ltd…

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The Building Work Begins!

October 23, 2017

  The scaffolding is going up on the north side of the church in preparation for repairs to the nave roof. Thanks to Neal Trafankowski for the photograph and to the Hertigage Lottery Fund for their financial help.    

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Lavender’s lunch raises over £1,100!

September 8, 2017

We are thrilled to announce that this year a record number of people attended Lavender’s Lunch with over 120 enjoying good company, delicious home made food and plenty of wine in the garden as well as savouring the last of the summer sunshine while raising a much needed funds for the church repairs. At the…

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Lavender’s lunch – 3rd September

August 15, 2017

Lavender’s lunch will be held at College Farm on Sunday 3rd September from 12.00 noon—3.00 pm. Proceeds from this delicious homemade lunch will go towards  St Martin’s Church. For tickets contact: Ann 01953 488506 Jo 01953 483144 Annabel 01953 488245 For payment by debit card: Katharine 01953 483318 

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Blossom and Yarn a great success!

August 1, 2017

Blossom and Yarn proved again to be a spectacular success as the knitting Festival returned to raise much needed funds for our local churches. Although the inside of St Martin’s was not available for the event the team made the best of the situation by brilliantly decorating the porch and the churchyard using the theme of…

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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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