St Martin in the Bull Ring
The church of St Martin in the Bull Ring ( grid reference SP073866) in Birmingham, England is a parish church in the Church of England.

It is the original parish church of Birmingham. It 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.


The original 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 church-wardens "dressed the church in brick." All was cased in brick with the exception of the spire. 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. 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. By 1808, the spire had been struck by lightning three times. 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.

Current church
In 1873, the church was demolished and rebuilt by architect J.A. Chatwin in 1873, preserving an earlier tower and spire. During the demolition, medieval wall paintings and decorations were discovered in the chancel, including 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 and an open timber roof. The roof 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. The floor tiles are Victorian Minton and display the quartered arms of the de Bermingham family.

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.

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 April 10, 1941, destroying all remaining windows. The West window is a 1954 copy of the Henry Hardman 1875 window destroyed in the Blitz.

Recent developments
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. The Church Shop is open from 10:30 to 15:30 except Sunday. The Tea Lounge is open for refreshments from 10:00 to 16:30 except Sunday and Monday.

List of clergy

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. 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. This was broadcast before a Sunday evening service in May 1924. 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 hung for ringing was installed, being the first time more than twelve bells had been installed as a change ringing instrument. 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.

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. An organ was duly erected by 1725 and the case was by Thomas Swabrick. 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. 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 most services.

  • Barnabas Gunn 1740 - 1753 (jointly with St. Philip's)
  • John Ohio Eversman 1753 - ????
  • Richard Hobbs
  • Joseph Harris 1771 - 1802 (formerly organist of St Laurence Church, Ludlow)
  • ?
  • James Stimpson 1852 - 1857
  • Walter Brooks 1857 - 1900
  • Dr Williamson John Reynolds 1900 - 1920 (formerly organist of St Michael, Cornhill, afterwards organist of Church of the Holy Trinity, Stratford-upon-Avon)
  • Richard Wassell 1920 - 1942 (afterwards organist of St. Alphege's Church, Solihull)
  • William Henry Stubbington 1942 - 1947
  • ?
  • Geoffrey Fletcher ARCO 1949 -1982 (also Director of Music, George Dixon Grammar School)
  • David Griffiths 1982 - 1986
  • Richard Wardell 1986 - 1997
  • John Hawker 1997 - ????.

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, D.D. 1779 1781 Charles Curtis 1781 1829 Thomas Moseley 1829 1846 Dr. John Miller 1846 1866 Canon Dr. William Wilkinson ???? - 1872 1896 ? ???? ???? Revd. Arthur J. Robinson ???? - 1899 1901 James Denton Thompson 1905 1912 ? ???? ???? Canon Guy Rogers 1924 1948 Canon Bryan Green 1949 1960 Canon Albert Peter Hall (afterwards Bishop of Woolwich) ???? 1984 W. G. Wesson 1985 ???? Canon Adrian Newman (afterwards Dean of Rochester) 1996 2004 Revd Canon Stewart William Jones 2004 Present

Building Activity

  • updated a digital reference
    about 5 years ago via Annotator
  • updated a digital reference and removed 2 media
    about 5 years ago via