Our Church

St Martin’s was one of Wren’s later rebuilding and its slender lead spire was most carefully considered in relation to the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral.  The view eastward from Ludgate Circus towards St Paul’s is one of the most memorable in London.

The first written reference to the church was of a medieval church on the site in 1174. This was rebuilt in 1437 and the tower was struck by lightning in 1561. Before the Reformation the patronage of the church belonged to the Abbot and Chapter of Westminster until 1540, then until 1554 to the Bishop of Westminster, when it passed to the Bishop of London and then to the Chapter of St Paul’s, with whom it remains. These patrons are represented in the stained glass windows in the north wall.

In 1643 William Penn, whose son founded Pennsylvania, USA, was married in the church. On 4th September 1666 the Great Fire of London engulfed St Martin’s which was gutted. Rebuilding was not immediate, was largely completed by 1680, but not finally until 1703. At the same time the church was set back from the old site, as Ludgate Hill was widened.

In 1890 the three parishes of St Martin’s, St Mary Magdalen Old Fish Street, which had been burnt down in 1888 and not rebuilt, and St Gregory by St Paul’s, destroyed by the Great Fire, were united (See the paintings to the right of the altar).

1894 saw major rebuilding and alterations, giving St Martin’s much of the layout it has today. The floor level was raised at the east end, creating the chancel area.

In 1941 an incendiary bomb damaged the roof, but St Martin’s received the least damage of all the city churches in the war.

In 1954 St Martin’s became a Guild Church (ie it does not have a parish but has other responsibilities and functions). It also became the ward church of Farringdon Within in the City of London.

1962 saw St Martin’s become the Chapel of the Honourable Society of the Knights of the Round Table whose history is ancient, although evidence is only patent from 1720.

A major renewal of the fabric, spire and roofs were completed in 1990. Redecoration, renovation of lighting and heating followed, prior to a formal reopening on St Martin’s Day, 11th November 1992, in the presence of T.R.H. The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.

Church Features

You would be forgiven for hustling passed St Martin’s, you may be on your way to St Paul’s, but once discovered you will not be disappointed as it’s peaceful and calm atmosphere will appeal to your inner voice to take a few moments for yourself.

If you do find yourself in our peaceful and intimate church, take a look at some of the special features around the church.  You can download our free leaflet, or pick one up when you visit, showing you were to find these features which we consider to be very special treasures to us.

City of London Churches Podcast 

The London Undone ‘City of London Churches’ podcast series: A journey around the magnificent and many churches of the City of London. Learn about their histories, architecture, associations, features and their spiritual lives today.
17. By some miracle, St Martin’s is one of the most original of Christopher Wren’s churches in the City of London and is used today for traditional Anglican services as well as for Chinese gospel singing worshippers. Tune in to hear more about it’s bread shelves, pendulum-like chandelier from the West Indies, palindromes and creepy crypt.

You can listen to the podcast here