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Former Church of St Martin, Lincoln

Reference Name MLI89653

Former Church of St Martin, Lincoln

Site of the former Church of St Martin at Lincoln. Thought to date to the early 10th century, although re-built several times until its demolition in 1876.


The Church of St Martin (sometimes referred to as 'at Dernstall', 'on Bowyer's Hill' and 'in Mickelgate') is considered to be one of the senior churches of the city. It is thought to have a foundation date in the early 10th century, based on finds of 10th century coins minted at Lincoln and dedicated to St Martin. It has also been suggested that it was this church, rather than St Paul in the Bail (PRN 70027), which was the one founded by Paulinus and mentioned by Bede. The church was granted to the Bishop by the King in 1070-87, and it had become a relatively valuable prebendal estate by 1135. It may have been rebuilt during the 13th century. It was home to at least two guilds - the Guild of St Martin, founded 1338, and the Resurrection Guild, founded c.1374. The church attracted wealthy elite patrons and was home to at least one family chapel, that of the Granthams which appears to have been founded in the 16th century. The parish was still prosperous in the 16th century, and several repairs were made to the church tower prior to the Reformation. The church survived the Reformation but was severely damaged during the Civil War. The tower was rebuilt in neo-classical style in 1740 and the rest of the church was enlarged in 1809, including the building of a new north aisle on the foundations of the ruined 13th century one. It had been decided by the later 19th century that a new building was needed and a replacement church was built in 1873, on a new site to the west (see PRN 71253). The existing church was demolished in 1876, although its west tower remained standing as a monument until 1921. The churchyard continued to receive burials until the 1850s. {1}{2}{3}{4}

A carved stone was set above the south doorway of the church. This was recorded in the 18th century, by which time it was already defaced and indistinct. It showed three standing figures, the central one holding a bird and a circular object upraised and with a halo around its head. A rectangular object with a roughly cross-shaped projection from the bottom of it is also shown below the left elbow of the central figure, although it is not held by any of the figures. The date of this stone and the identity of the figures has been debated. It was originally thought to be Roman, and to show the emperor (with nimbus and imperial eagle) and the mint master with the square box used to receive newly minted coins. It has also been interpreted as being of Norman date and showing the baptism of Christ although it bears little resemblance to the usual iconography of this subject. Its current whereabouts is unknown, and it may have been destroyed during the demolition of the church. {5}{6}

The internal layout and features of the church in the 19th century have been fully described. It was intended that the capitals, shafts and "all the architectural features worthy of preservation" were to be re-used in the new church of St Andrew in the parish of St Peter at Gowts following the demolition of St Martin's. {7}

1 Bibliographic Reference: Jones, Michael, J; Stocker, D.; and Vince, A.. 2003. The City by the Pool including LARA. RAZ 9.60.38, 10.60.28, 11.91.12
2 Article in Serial: VENABLES, E.. 1888. 'A list and brief description of the churches of Lincoln previous to the period of the Reformation' in Associated Architectural and Archaeological Societies’ Reports and Papers. p.338, no.26
3 Bibliographic Reference: Mansel Sympson, E.. 1906. Lincoln: A Historical and Topographical Account of the City. pp.325-6
4 Bibliographic Reference: Cameron, K.. 1984. The Place-Names of Lincolnshire, Part 1. 1. pp.127-8
5 Bibliographic Reference: HILL, J.W.F.. 1948. Medieval Lincoln. p.142, fig.14
6 Article in Serial: Johnson, Maurice. 1784. An Account of the Gentlemens' Society at Spalding. pp.60-2
7 Article in Serial: VENABLES, E.. 1876. Associated Architectural and Archaeological Societies’ Reports and Papers. vol.XIII, pp.212-6

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Last updated: 07-December-2017 13:50:49

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