This place has been a focus of Christian spirituality for eight centuries, since Norman times. Today it continues to be a House of Prayer for the parishioners of Martley. We respect the building because of this special and hallowed purpose as well as for its antiquity. The simple barn construction suits well the rural community.
The walls are mostly of red sandstone quarried locally.
This stone does not weather well, but in the evening it glows brilliantly. The Church is mainly of Norman origin, the Nave walls dating from the 12th century. The Chancel was rebuilt in the 13th century, the East wall c. 1315 and the Tower in the mid-15th century. North and South doorways contain Norman decoration, the North (blocked) having the original consecration cross. Outside the South doorway in the porch (1884) is a mutilated Holy Water stoup. The small Rood doorway once led to a stone stairway, destroyed in Reformation times.
The sturdy timber roofs of both Nave and Chancel date from the 14th century, unchanged but much repaired.
The Medieval Wall Paintings
These were partly uncovered during the 1909 restoration and are of the greatest interest. On the North wall of the Nave, scarcely discernible, the largest painting is of St. Martin of Tours on horseback dividing his cloak with a beggar. Beside that is a small panel showing the Adoration of the Kings, unusually Juxtaposed with the Crucifixion. Was Martley on the pilgrim route? The painting beside the pulpit is of the Risen Christ and doubting Thomas. Windows Three of the Nave windows contain good examples of Kempe stained glass, with sheaf and tower trademark. One is dedicated to two young Nash brothers of The Noak, who were killed in 1915.
The Rood Screen is a copy of the original, destroyed in 1829.
The East window is early 14th century and the two in the North wall are lancets dating from the rebuilding of the Chancel in the 13th century..
Here may he seen the earliest of the paintings: a curtain pattern with medieval fabulous beasts (c.1250) by the Altar, showing fox, stag, hare, wolf and dragons; stalked four leaf flower and masonry designs (c. 1340) on the North and South walls; arms of the great Teme families in the splay of the South East window. The South wall has a flowing Annunciation (c. 1340), unusually depicting the Virgin Mary bare-footed and on the left of the Archangel.
The recumbent effigy of a knight in Yorkist armour by the South wall may well be a memorial to the Lord of the Manor, Sir Hugh Mortimer, who died at the Battle of Wakefield in 1460. By the North wall is a stone tomb marked with traces of a carved staff, possibly the burial place of an Abbot of Cormeilles which owned the advowson of Martley in early times. Medieval tiles are laid along the footpiece of the Altar. The Chancel floor is covered with memorials to local families.
The organ, with its Gothic casing is a fine example of its
The Bell Chamber
The bells are the original set of six, cast locally In 1673 and are the oldest complete six in the country. The ringing chamber houses a modern sculpture of Christ. The cedar tree from which it was carved had grown for 150 years in the churchyard and blew down in the January gales of 1976. The sculptor, Leslie Punter, lives in Martley.
We are the inheritors of all this craftsmanship and more especially of the faith of generations who have worshipped here. Their prayers have made this place holy. Before you leave this Church, sit quietly for a moment in God’s presence and offer your life to Him for His blessing.