St. Martin’s church and parish came into being in the early years of the 20th. century to meet the spiritual needs of the growing population of the London Road and Wyld’s Lane area of the city. The two-storey Parish Hall was built first – the lower storey being the Parish Hall and the upper storey serving as the Parish Church while the new church was built.
Parish Centre today St Martin's West end
Mr. G.H. Fellowes Prynne was chosen as the architect and the foundation stone for the new church was laid on Saturday 9th October 1909. The stone was laid by Countess Beauchamp of Madresfield accompanied by The Bishop of Worcester, the Rector (Rev. C.H.Gough) and The Mayor and Corporation of Worcester.
Finance for the new church was raised by grants and public subscription. As building progressed it became obvious that there would not be sufficient funds to complete the whole building. The Building Committee reluctantly took the decision that the tower and baptistery would be omitted as would the Lady Chapel.
8th June 1911 saw the consecration of St. Martin’s by The Bishop of Worcester (Right Reverend H. Yeatman Biggs). In his sermon, the Bishop alluded to the arguments over the dedication of the church. The Bishop had wanted the dedication to be St. Wulstan but acceded to the wishes of the parish that it should be St. Martin!
The church was built by Messrs. J. and A. Brazier of Bromsgrove. The exterior stone was quarried at Alveley on the River Severn above Stourport and sent by barge to Diglis. The dressing around the windows is of Bath stone. Another local firm involved in the building was that of Ben Davis, stonemasons. The final cost of the building was £8,331 : 16s :11d. (£8,331.85 - decimalised).
The tower to the church was never completed. Only the first 24 feet was built and this forms the impressive south entrance to the present church. Above the door is a statuette of St Martin. The Lady Chapel was completed thanks to the generosity of the Barnitt family. This chapel contains the only stained glass in the church – 6 windows dedicated to the Barnitt and Webb families. The Baptistry was built and dedicated in 1962 to replace the ‘temporary’ corrugated iron structure which had stood for 50 years!
In the west porch is a plaque of St. Martin. This was once fixed to a lamp-post near the church of St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square, London. The plaque was given to the church in 1961 by The Bishop of Worcester (Right Reverend Charles-Edwards) who had, at one time, been vicar of
Owing to serious structural problems, the church of St. Peter the Great in Sidbury was closed and demolished in the early 1970s. The parish of St. Peter was joined with that of St. Martin, the new parish of St. Martin with St. Peter coming into existence on 1st August 1974. A picture of St. Peter’s church can be seen on the dorsal curtain behind the High Altar.
In January 2014 St Martin's Church was listed by English Heritage as Grade ii - a fine example of a church designed by Fellowes Prynne and built at the start of the 20th Century.- to see the article giving information relating to the listing. - click here:
When it was built, St Martin’s was one of the first churches to be fitted with electric lighting. However, in 2011 the original pendant lights were found to be electrically unsafe and it was decided to install new lighting to provide improved illumination for the various activities that now take place in the church. A new LED lighting scheme was installed in 2015 with a control system providing dimming and scene setting for worship and concerts, etc. The original pendants have been refurbished and repositioned, and the opportunity was also taken to clean, refurbish and light the rood screen, which has revealed the beautifully detailed carving for the first time in over 100 years.
See Photo gallary