St Martin in the Bull Ring

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St Martin in the Bull Ring, Birmingham Parish Church.
St Martin in the Bull Ring (Birmingham Parish Church).
Country United Kingdom
Denomination Church of England
Churchmanship Low Church
Website www.bullring.org
History
Dedication Saint Martin
Specifications
Bells 16
Tenor bell weight 39 long cwt 1 qtr 19 lb (4,415 lb or 2,003 kg)
Administration
Parish Birmingham, St Martin
Diocese Birmingham
Province Canterbury
Clergy
Rector Stewart William Jones

The church of St Martin in the Bull Ring (grid reference SP073866) in Birmingham 5, England is a parish church of the Church of England. It is the original parish church of Birmingham and stands between the Bull Ring shopping centre and the markets.

The church is a Grade II* listed building. The current Rector is the Revd. Canon Stewart W. Jones.

History[edit]

Original church[edit]

Drawing from William Hutton's 1809 book An history of Birmingham, showing the earlier church

The present Victorian church was built on the site of a 13th-century predecessor, which was documented in 1263. The church was enlarged in medieval times and the resulting structure consisted of a lofty nave and chancel, north and south aisles and a northwest tower with spire.

In 1547, although no record is kept to indicate when the first clock appears in Birmingham, during this year the King's Commissioners report that the Guild of the Holy Cross are responsible "ffor keeping the Clocke and the Chyme" at a cost of four shillings and four pence a year at St Martin's Church. The next recorded mention of a clock is in 1613. The earliest known clock makers in the town arrived in 1667 from London.

In 1690, the churchwardens "dressed the church in brick". All was cased in brick with the exception of the spire.[1]

John Cheshire rebuilt 40 feet of the spire in 1781, which was strengthened by an iron spindle running up its centre for a length of 105 feet. It was secured to the sidewalls at every ten feet by braces.[1] In 1801, several metres from the top of the spire were replaced after they were found to have decayed. The tops of the four pinnacles surrounding the main spire were also rebuilt.[1] By 1808, the spire had been struck by lightning three times.[1]

In 1853, the brick casing was removed from the tower by Philip Charles Hardwick, who added the open-air pulpit. The church also contained an organ, the reedwork of which had been done by John Snetzler. However, the pipes were found to be ineffective due to their proximity to the church roof and walls.[1]

Current church[edit]

External pulpit

In 1873, the church was demolished and rebuilt by architect J. A. Chatwin, preserving the earlier tower and spire. During the demolition, medieval wall paintings and decorations were discovered in the chancel, including one showing the charity of St Martin dividing his cloak with a beggar. Two painted beams were also found behind the plaster ceiling.

The exterior is built of rockfaced Grimshill stone. The interior is of sandstone with an open timber roof,[2] which shows the influence of the great hammerbeam roof of Westminster Hall. The beams are decorated with fine tracery and end in large carvings of angels. The roof weights 93 tons (94.5 tonnes), spans 22 ft (6.7m) over the 100 ft (30.4m) long nave and is 60 ft (18.2m) high.[3]

The Victorian floor tiles are by Minton and display the quartered arms of the de Bermingham family.[3]

Dimensions[edit]

From east to west the length of the church is 155 ft., including the chancel, the arch of which rises to 60 ft.; the width, including nave (25 ft.) and north and south aisles, is 67 ft.; at the transepts the width is 104 ft.

Windows[edit]

The South Transept has a Burne-Jones window, made by William Morris in 1875. This window was taken down for safe keeping the day before a World War II bomb dropped beside the church on 10 April 1941, destroying all remaining windows.[4] The West window is a 1954 copy of the Henry Hardman 1875 window destroyed in the Blitz.

Recent developments[edit]

The cleaned church, next to Selfridges

As part of the Bull Ring development in 2003, the church was cleaned and repaired.

St Martin in the Bull Ring is open to visitors from 10:00 to 17:00 every day.

List of clergy[edit]

List of clergy
Name Start date End date
Thomas de Hinkley 1300 1304
Stephen de Segrave 1304 1304
John de Ayleston 1304 1336
Robert de Shuteford 1336 1349
William de Seggeley 1349 1354
Thomas de Dumbleton 1354 1369
Hugh de Wolvesey 1369 1396
Thomas Darnall 1396 1412
William Thomas 1412 1414
John Waryn 1428 1432
William Hyde 1432 1433
John Armstrong 1433 1433
John Wardale 1433 1436
Henry Cymon 1436 1444
Humphrey Jurdan 1444  ????
Richard Button 1504 1536
Richard Myddlemore 1536 1544
William Wrixam 1544  ????
Luke (Lucas) Smith 1578 1646
Samuel Wills 1646  ????
Samuel Slater 1659 1663
John Riland 1663 1672
Henry Grove 1672  ????
William Daggett  ????  ????
William Green  ????  ????
Thomas Tyrer  ????  ????
Richard Dovey 1732 1771
Richard Chase 1771 1772
John Parsons 1772 1779
William Hinton 1779 1781
Charles Curtis 1781 1829
Thomas Moseley 1829 1846
John Miller 1846 1866
Canon William Wilkinson 1866[5] 1896
Arthur James Robinson 1897[6] 1901
Ven. J. W. Diggle 1901[7] 1905
James Denton Thompson 1905 1912
 ?  ????  ????
Canon Guy Rogers 1924 1948
Canon Bryan Green 1949 1968/9
Canon Albert Peter Hall (afterwards Bishop of Woolwich) 1968/9 1984
J. G. Wesson 1985 1995
Canon Adrian Newman (afterwards Dean of Rochester, now Bishop of Stepney) 1996 2004
Canon Stewart William Jones 2004 present


Bells[edit]

There were four bells in 1552, together with a clock and chime. Six bells were put up in 1682. It is known that in 1745 when John Wesley preached in the Bull Ring the bells were rung in an attempt to drown his voice.[3]

In July 1758 the eight bells were replaced by a new peal of ten, tenor weight 35 cwt (1778 kg), cast by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. These were subsequently augmented to twelve in 1772.

The first broadcast of church bells change ringing was of St Martin's.[8] This was broadcast before a Sunday evening service in May 1924.[3] The bells were recast in 1928 and an additional semitone bell was added in 1953. The frame in which the bells were rehung dated from 1869 and trouble with the frame led to a scheme of total renovation in 1991.

A new peal of sixteen bells (tenor weight 39 long cwt 1 qtr 19 lb (4,415 lb or 2,003 kg)[9]) hung for ringing was installed, being the first time more than twelve bells had been installed as a change ringing instrument.[3] Sixteen is an unusual number, five, six, eight, ten or at the most twelve would be typical: in 2008 only three rings of sixteen exist in the world.

Organ[edit]

The Guild of the Holy Cross at St. Martin's Church provided for an organist before the Reformation.

The church was presumably without an organ from the English Civil War as the churchwardens accounts read:

We the Minister, Churchwardens and inhabitants within the Parish of St. Martin's Birmingham being desirous to put up an organ in the said Parish Church have at a vestry called for this purpose unanimously agreed to raise the sum of 300l and upwards for competing the same, and for our selves, and in behalf of the rest of the Parishioneres have hereunto sett our hands this 17th day of May Anno Dom 1725.[10]

An organ was duly erected by 1725 and the case was by Thomas Swarbrick. This organ was removed or replaced between 1800 and 1829. The case was then transferred to St. Alphege's Church, Solihull by Rev Charles Curtis who was Rector of St. Martin's and Rector of St. Alphege, Solihull.

The current pipe organ is by Harrison & Harrison and dates from 1906. Originally it was a three manual instrument on the north side of the chancel but in 1955 it was re-built as a four manual organ and moved to the north transept by John Compton.[3] The opening recital was given by George Thalben-Ball on 30 March 1955. The specification of the organ can be found at the National Pipe Organ Register.

Since around 2004, St Martin's has abandoned the use of the organ for the Sunday 11.00am Service(now called The Crossing service; a Music in Worship Group leads the Service). It is still played at the Sunday 9.30am Holy Communion and for 6.00pm Choral Services.

Organists[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e R. Jabet; J.P.Lucas (1808). A concise history of Birmingham. R. Jabet. 
  2. ^ Douglas Hickman (1970). Birmingham. Studio Vista Limited. pp. 37–39. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f St. Martin's in the Bull Ring. Published by English Life Publications Ltd, 1991. ISBN 0-85101-282-5
  4. ^ St. Martin's in the Bull Ring, Church Guide, 1991, ISBN 0-85101-282-5
  5. ^ Worcester Journal - Saturday 28 November 1896
  6. ^ Birmingham Daily Post - Thursday 28 October 1897
  7. ^ Leamington Spa Courier - Friday 8 November 1901
  8. ^ St. Martin's in the Bull Ring - a story of seven centuries, Rev Philip Crowe, 1975
  9. ^ Dove Online
  10. ^ St. Martin's Churchwardens Accounts. Transcribed in the Town Book held at Birmingham Central Library
  11. ^ Aris’s Birmingham Gazette, no. 1535 (22 April 1771), p. 3, col. 2.
  12. ^ Thornsby, Frederick W., ed. Dictionary of Organs and Organists. Bournemouth: Logan.
  13. ^ Who's Who in Music. First Post-war Edition: 1949/50 London: Shaw Publishing Co. Ltd.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°28′37″N 1°53′36″W / 52.4770°N 1.8932°W / 52.4770; -1.8932