St Martin’s Church came into being in the early years of the twentieth century to meet the spiritual needs of the growing population of the London Road and Wyld’s Lane area of the city. In 1904, it took over the parish of the ancient city-church of Saint-Martin-in-the-Cornmarket.
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.
Foundations and Building
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 (Revd 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.
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).
8th June 1911 saw the consecration of St Martin’s by The Bishop of Worcester (Rt Revd 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 (d. 1095) but acceded to the wishes of the parish that it should be St Martin (d. 397)!
1912 & 1962
Completing the building
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 in 1912 thanks to the generosity of the Barnitt family. This chapel contains the only stained glass in the church – six windows dedicated to the Barnitt and Webb families.
The Baptistry was eventually built and dedicated in 1962 to replace the ‘temporary’ corrugated iron structure that had stood for fifty years!
Uniting with St Peter's Parish
Owing to serious structural problems, the Church of St Peter the Great in Sidbury was closed and demolished in 1976. The ancient parish of St Peter's, which dates back to at the least the tenth century, was joined with that of St Martin's, 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.
Centenary, Listing, and Improvements
2011 marked celebrations of the first hundred years of St Martin's Church building.
In 2014, St Martin's Church was listed by English Heritage as Grade ii.
2015 saw major improvements to the building:
a new LED lighting scheme.
a set of glass doors in the South Porch designed by the much-respected local artist Sara Hayward.
the cleaning and refurbishing of the rood beam, which has revealed the beautifully detailed carving for the first time in many years.