St Martin's Church

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St Martin's Church ( 480x640 )
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St Martin Church in the Bull Ring is Birmingham Parish Church of the Church of England, the original parish church of Birmingham. The church is a Grade II listed building.

The first church built on the site was probably Norman and it was rebuilt in the 13th century. During the Medieval Times the church was enlarged. Although there is no written evidence, St Martin became the site of the first Birmingham clock in 1547. The recorded mention of a clock is in 1613. The church was rebuilt several times until 1873.

The complete renovation came in 1873. The church was demolished and the architect J. A. Chatwin created a new one preserving the tower and the spire of the previous church. Some medieval wall paintings and decorations were discovered in the chancel (the act of St Martin charity – him dividing his cloak with a beggar is one of them). The exterior is built of rockfaced grimshill stone. The interior is of sandstone and an open timber roof. The ceiling beams are decorated with fine tracery and end in large carvings of angels (the influence of the Westminister Hall). The floor tiles are Victorian Minton and display the quartered arms of the de Bermingham family.

St Martin Church in numbers: from east to west the length of the church is more than 47 metres (155ft), including the chancel, the arch of which rises to 18 metres (60ft); the width, including nearly 8 metres wide nave (25ft) and north and south aisles, is 20.4 metres (67ft); at the transepts the width is 31.7 metres (104ft.). The roof weights 93 tons, spans 6.7m (22ft) over the 30.4m (100ft) long nave.

The Burne-Jones window in the south Transept was made by William Morris in 1875 and the West window is a 1954 copy of the Henry Hardman 1875 window destroyed in the Blitz.

In 1552 there were four bells in St Martin. This number was gradually rising up to 12 in 1772. The bells were recast in 1928 and an additional semitone bell was added in 1953. They were completely renovated in 1991. A new peal of sixteen bells hung for ringing was installed. In 2008 only three rings of sixteen still existed.

An organ was duly erected by 1725 and the case was by Thomas Swabrick. This organ was removed or replaced between 1800 and 1829. The current pipe organ is by Harrison & Harrison and dates from 1906. Originally it was a three manual instrument but in 1955 it was re-built as a four manual organ. However, since around 2004, St Martin's has abandoned the use of the organ for most services.
St Martin in the Bull Ring is open from 10:00 to 17:00 every day for visitors to view the interior.
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