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St Martin

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The Lavaux Map shows the location of St Martin.

The church existed by the late 12th century, when St. Martin was described by Lucian the Monk as one of the 'guardians' of Chester Seacome (writing in 1828) describes it as follows:

  • "Formerly called St Martin's of the Ash stands at the west end of White Friars and Cuppings Lane. It appears to have been an ancient foundation for it is mentioned in a deed in the year 1250 wherein Bernard de Trannuille releases to Philip le Clerk a rent of 12d arising from premises situate "near the church of St Martin in Chester". The old church mentioned in this deed having fallen into decay was rebuilt in 1721 as we learn from an inscription on the front of the steeple. It is a remarkably small but very neat structure pointed with stone at the angles and finishings. The interior is handsomely fitted up and is capable of accommodating about 250 sitters. The open ground in front of this church bears the name of "Martin's Ash" derived in all liklihood from the circumstance of an ash tree having formerly stood on the spot."
The Church of St Martin before demolition.

Hemingway tells us that the inscription mentioned by Seacome read: "This church being ruinated, was new erected from the foundation, in the year 1721 - Charles Bingley, William Terry, C.W." and writes of it:

  • "St Martin's is a rectory in the gift of the Bishop. In 1774 it was augmented by lands purchased with £400 of which £200 came by Queen Anne's bounty. In 1809 the yearly value of the living arising from augmentation tithes rent charge and surplice fees was returned by the Bishop to the governor's of Queen Anne's bounty as amounting to £76/18s. The foundation, says Mr Ormerod, was certainly anterior to 1250 as appears from a deed of the evidences of the Earl of Shrewsbury whereby Bernard Lord Trunmalle releases to Philip the Clerk son of Galfridus Munitor 12d rent issuing from premises near church of St Martin, in Chester, Allan le Zouche being then justice of Chester. William Clark instituted to this rectory July 7, 1637 on the presentation of the Bishop of Chester. This is the first institution extant in the episcopal registers."

On 27 April 1842 the district was united with that of Chester: St Bridget to form the combined district of "St. Bridget with St. Martin", which in January 1973 itself became part of a unified district for the city of Chester. St. Martin's closed in 1963 and was demolished to make way for the Inner Ring Road around 1969 - a nearby part of which is known as "St Martin's Way".

The church of St. Martin, which was situated near the south-west corner of the legionary fortress, was by the 17th century a small, two-celled building with a bellcote. In the early 17th century there was a structure over the porch similar to the rectory houses of other Chester churches. It had fallen into ruin by c. 1720, and in 1721 was replaced with a small, aisleless building of brick with stone dressings, with a tower but no chancel. Repaired c. 1820 and again in 1869, it was enlarged in 1882 and demolished to make way for the inner ringroad after its sale to the city council in 1964. Its pre-Reformation font was transferred to St. Bridget's in 1861 and to St. Mary's on the Hill in 1892.

The porch was removed around 1897 and relocated to the Hermitage by T. R. P. Royle.