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St Martin on the Walls

The most complete example of a Saxon church in Dorset!

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St Martin on the Walls in Wareham

Details

An ancient Saxon church which is over 1000 years old! Located near to Wareham old Saxon walls,  at the entrance to the town on North Street. 

St Martin on the Walls is certainly worth a visit as it is the most complete example of a Saxon church in Dorset. The church has been adapted and enlarged over the centuries but you can still see the original Saxon nave, chancel, wall arcading and traces of a Saxon door.

The interior walls are covered in a number of fascinating fresco fragments including a Royal Arms of Queen Anne dated 1713, black letter scriptural texts dating from the 1600’s, and some red stars which are believed to indicate plague deaths. On the north wall of the chancel are 12th century frescoes depicting Saint Martin.

Lawrence of Arabia Effigy

St Martin in the Walls is also famous for its priceless effigy of TE Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia). The effigy was sculpted by Eric Kennington, official war artist for both world wars. Originally the effigy was made for St Paul’s Cathedral but controversy around Lawrence led the effigy to be housed in Wareham’s Saxon church instead.  

Read more about T.E. Lawrence and his connections to Wareham on our Visit Wareham website.

History of St Martin on the Walls

St Martin on the Walls church in Wareham is thought to have been rebuilt on the site of an earlier church, founded in the 7th century by Saint Aldhelm. This church is believed to have been destroyed by the Viking King Canute in 1015. 

St Martin’s continued to be used for worship until 1678 after which its importance as a place of worship began to slowly decline. After the 1762 Great Fire of Wareham the church was used as a refuge for the homeless. A fireplace was installed in the north wall of the nave and you can still see the exterior chimney-stack today.

Over the next 200 years the building lay abandoned and its walls overgrown with ivy and it wasn’t until the beginning of the 20th century that interest in the church began and it was restored in 1935-6. Today, the church is once again used for public worship. 

For details of services see the Wareham Churches website. 

Contact

Address

North St, Wareham BH20 4AG

Phone

01929550905

Email

parish.office@warehamchurches.org.uk

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