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The Church of St Martin, Worcester

Description: The Church of St Martin

Grade: II
Date Listed: 6 January 2014
Building ID: 1417579

OS Grid Reference: SO8599054148
OS Grid Coordinates: 385990, 254147
Latitude/Longitude: 52.1854, -2.2063

Locality: Worcester
Local Authority: Worcester City Council
County: Worcestershire
Postcode: WR5 2EB

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Listing Text


A church of 1903-11, designed by George Fellowes Prynne and built by Braziers of Bromsgrove in a free Gothic style.

Reason for Listing

The Church of St Martin, Worcester is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural quality: the church has a dynamic design which combines a forceful external and internal appearance with subtle detailing and excellent craftsmanship in its execution.
* Intact survival: despite the fact that the building was not finished as originally planned, it retains all of its major features and has been little altered since its completion.


The expansion of Worcester in the later-C19 led to the creation of a new parish, formed by merging the rural part of the city parish of Old St Martin with some of St Peter the Great. The church was designed in 1903-4 and built in 1909-11 by J and A Brazier of Bromsgrove for a cost of £8,330. A large church hall, on the east side of Victoria Avenue, was built in 1903-4 to the designs of A Hill Parker, and served as the church in the interim.

The apsidal South Chapel was completed in 1915. The planned tower on the south side was not built, but the western baptistery and porches were completed to a revised design by F Potter in 1962 on the original foundations. The organ, to the north of the choir, was built in 1928 and the stained glass windows in the South Chapel, by AJ Davies of the Bromsgrove Guild, were added in 1927-31.


A church of 1903-11, designed by George Fellowes Prynne and built by Braziers of Bromsgrove in a free Gothic style.

MATERIALS: the exterior has rock-faced Alveley sandstone with Bath stone ashlar dressings and banding, and a tiled roof. The interior has walling of exposed red, white and buff brick with extensive limestone dressings.

PLAN: the building has a wide nave with narrow side aisles. Nave and chancel are both under one uniform roof. The south side has a chapel with apsidal east end. To both sides are transepts of two bays and the south side has the lowest stage of an incomplete tower which was transformed into an entrance porch. The land slopes at the eastern end, allowing for an undercroft. The baptistery has a semi-circular west end and is flanked by square, projecting porches.

EXTERIOR: bands of Bath stone run around the building and are set at the level of the sills and springing of the windows and to the gables. Window tracery is curvilinear, with extensive use of mouchettes. The east end has angle buttresses with offsets and a central buttress which dies out below the east window. At undercroft level four windows of two lights are paired. Above this is a panel of chequerboard ashlar squares using the two building stones. The window surround includes a lower panel of blind tracery including the arms of the see of Worcester at its centre and above this the east window has five lights and a traceried head. To the top of the gable is an ashlar panel with a Calvary carved in relief.

The south side has two windows of two lights at its west end. The projecting porch, adapted from the lowest stage of the intended tower, has setback buttresses and a two-light window to its west flank with a canopied niche immediately above. The south face has the doorway, with plank doors. The segmental arch has mouldings which die into the deeply chamfered sides, and the spandrels have blind tracery. Above this is a flat hood suspended by wrought iron brackets. Brackets at either side of the door head have carved figures of saints. In a canopied niche above is the figure of St Martin holding his sword and cloak. The south-east corner of the tower has a polygonal staircase turret. Immediately to the right is the transept, which has two gabled bays, each with a three-light window. To right again, the side chapel has lancets to its south flank, which continue around the apsidal east end. Smaller lancets occur at the level of the undercroft. The roof above the apse has an iron finial, below which a decorative lead flashing takes the form of sinuous rays which spread out across the roof tiles. The projecting choir gallery behind the chapel has lancets to its upper wall and a doorway to the undercroft, with a canted south-eastern angle with small staircase lights. The chancel has two, closely set, lancets and a pair of windows to the undercroft, as seen on the east side.

The north flank is essentially similar to the south, save for the absence of the projecting tower. A single-storey lavatory block with gabled roof was added in the 1970s in the re-entrant angle between the nave and transept. The organ loft bay is gabled and projects to east of the transept. It has square-headed windows at various levels to light the staircase to the undercroft. At its north-east corner is a polygonal staircase turret.
The west face has the semi-circular front of the baptistery to the centre. This is of limestone ashlar with a flat roof. The walling here consists of windows of full height which have deeply-chamfered reveals and clear glass. The flat-roofed porches at either side have rock-faced, sandstone walling and ashlar door surrounds. Each has a pair of plank doors, with vertical strips of glazing. The walling above and behind this has the west window of seven lights. To the top of the gable is a triple, canopied niche with a statue of the Virgin and Child to the centre and angels at either side.

The bellcote to the ridge is placed above the rood. It is hexagonal on plan, with plates of copper laid in a chevron pattern to its lower body. The upper body has timber supports and traceried panels with a miniature balustrade. The shallow-pitched, copper-clad roof is crowned by crocketed pinnacles, sheathed in bronze.

INTERIOR: contrasted bands of red brick and limestone to the piers and arches and buff-coloured brick to the panels between the windows give an effect of muted polychromy. The wooden barrel vault runs the full length of the church, with a panel of quatrefoil decoration above the rood. The nave has five, uniform bays, of which the two easternmost also lead to the transepts. Piers have shallow chamfers to their aisle sides and deep chamfers facing inwards to the nave. The arches are made up of voussoirs which alternate between blocks of limestone and sections of brickwork and the mouldings of the arches die into the pier chamfers. There is a running hood-mould above each arcade. The lower bodies of the piers were originally panelled with wood, but this was removed due to rot in the mid-C20 and replaced by cement, scribed in imitation of ashlar blocks.

The chancel is approached by a set of shallow steps. A low, panelled, marble screen wall and a wooden rood arch, with figures of Christ, The Virgin and St John, mark the juncture. The raised chancel floor has inlaid marble panels. The altar has been moved forward from its original position against the east wall. To the south wall are a piscina and sediliae, and the north wall has two aumbry cupboards. The choir stalls have traceried panels to their fronts. Behind the stalls are corridors with glazed screens and above these are a choir gallery on the south side and the organ loft on the north.

Fittings include a set of original electric lights, with bulbs suspended from a corona to the nave, and copper lanterns to the aisles and porch. The brass lectern in the form of an eagle dates from the opening of the church. The C19 pulpit was brought from the church of St Andrew, Worcester, after its demolition in 1949. The southern side chapel has a tessellated floor and a set of six stained glass windows, the work of AJ Davies, showing an angel in each lancet and the wording 'GLORY/O.LORD/BE.TO.THEE/MOST.HIGH/ALLELUIA/AMEN'.

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.