St Martin's Church, Wareham

Coordinates: 50°41′20″N 2°06′41″W / 50.6888°N 2.1115°W / 50.6888; -2.1115

St Martin's Church, Wareham, sometimes St Martin's-on-the-walls, is an Anglo-Saxon church in the town of Wareham, Dorset in England. It is the most complete example of an Anglo-Saxon church in Dorset.[2]

St Martin's Church, Wareham
St Martin's-on-the-walls, Wareham
Wareham, St. Martin's.jpg
CountryUnited Kingdom
DenominationChurch of England
DedicationSt Martin
Heritage designationGrade I listed[1]
Designated7 May 1952
Years builtcirca 1030

It is a Grade I listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.[1]

History and featuresEdit

The church is reputed to have been founded by Saint Aldhelm in the 7th century.[3] It is thought that this earlier building was destroyed by Cnut the Great in 1015.[3] The present building dates from about AD 1030. Anglo-Saxon features include a tall, narrow nave and chancel, late Anglo-Saxon wall-arcading in the north west aisle and traces of a Saxon door. The building has been altered and expanded over the years but the nave and a tiny window in the north side of the chancel are original features. On the north wall of the chancel are 12th-century frescoes depicting Saint Martin on horseback, escorted by attendants, dividing his cloak and giving one half to a naked beggar.

On one of the walls a number of red stars have been painted, possibly representing plague deaths in the 17th century.[2]

During the Great Fire of Wareham in 1762 the church was used as a temporary refuge for those who had lost their homes. Later the church fell into disuse but at the beginning of the 20th century a programme of restoration began and the church was rededicated on 23 November 1936.

In the north aisle sits a stone tomb effigy of T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), created by his friend Eric Kennington.[4]

The church is still in use, with a regular weekly communion on Wednesdays.


  1. ^ a b Historic England. "St Martin's Church  (Grade I) (1003573)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Dorset's oldest church". BBC. 7 March 2006.
  3. ^ a b Ladle, Lilian (1986). Explore Wareham. Lady St Mary Parochial Church Council. ISBN 0-9511365-0-X.
  4. ^ Knowles, Richard (1991). "Tale of an 'Arabian knight': the T. E. Lawrence effigy". Church Monuments. 6: 67–76.

External linksEdit