Welcome to St Martin Martinhoe
Usual Monthly Service
9.00am - Holy Communion
At festivals services may change so please check the calendar on the main page of this website or the Parish Magazine
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Contacts at The Parish of Martinhoe
Mr Keith Ash Telephone 01598 763374
St Martin - nave, choir, chancel & east window
St Martin Martinhoe
'Martinhoe' is recorded as a Domesday Manor, along with Killington, now a local farm. It's understood that the site of the present church was that of a chapel serving the Manor families, built within the dimensions of the Chancel. The precise date of the early building is not known but the original Font, now to be seen in St. Petrock Parracombe, is probably of Saxon origin. There was substantial rebuilding in Norman times, although completion in a form recognizable today was not until about 1200 A.D. Further modifications and additions culminated in extensive restoration work in the middle of the last century. It is interesting that the Domesday Manor of Martinhoe (or Martin's Hill) derived its name from the founder family, and the later dedication of the church to St. Martin, a fourth century Hungarian martyr, was probably a choice of convenience.
The Church, before the last restoration, consisted of the tower which is almost unaltered, the nave which has been completely rebuilt, and the chancel and sanctuary which are not much changed except for the modern east window. The tower with its low pointed opening into the nave is of primitive form but it. contains no moulded stone or other firm indications of date. The narrow slit windows are deeply splayed internally. This is probably merely to help the lighting but is possibly for defence. It should be remembered that coastal villages of the Severn Sea were liable to attack by pirates and raiders of all nationalities from the earliest times until as recently as the 17th. century, and the people frequently took refuge in their churches. The tower holds two bells of early though unrecorded date; one is inscribed MARIA and the other SANCTA MARIA. The nave is entirely modern except for a small section of the west end of the south wall. The earlier roof was of the wagon form, usual in Devon churches, divided into large square panels with decorative bosses at the intersections. The north wall was replaced by arches and the north aisle added. The medieval oak benches with their carved ends, and the 18th. century box pews, were destroyed at the same time and replaced by the present deal pews. The chancel still shows several Early English features. The eastern triplet window is very early and is formed of rough stone with the splays and window-arch plastered. The three present side windows were inserted when earlier one-light windows in the north and south walls were built up. Both the earlier and later windows had the flat segmental arch belonging to the style.
The first recorded Rector of Martinhoe was named de Pyn, member of a West Down family, but the first whose date of institution (1270) is known was William de Esse (Ash). James Hannington, the first Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa, was for some time a curate at Martinhoe. He later joined the Church Missionary Society and after spending some time near the East African coast he was, in 1884, consecrated Bishop and the next year he set off on the long trek to what is now Uganda. The native king fearing his Christian influence had him murdered near the banks of Lake Victoria. Another lake in The Great Rift Valley is named after him, and in Martinhoe the parish hall bears his name.
Near the car park above Woody Bay are several Bronze Age burial barrows, and on the boundary between Parracombe and Martinhoe is a hill-top fort of the pre-Roman Iron Age. Overlooking the sea on a hill known as Martinhoe Beacon are some remains of a small Roman fort, built about 50 A.D. and occupied until about 74 A.D. by a garrison of 80 soldiers to keep an eye on the warlike Silures of South Wales. This fort was excavated by Lady Fox and Professor Ravenhill in 1960 and 1961, and the various artefacts which they found, such as pottery, coins and weapons may be seen in the Museum in Barnstaple.