Home | Contact Us

The invoice for the building of the church. Click to enlarge.

For a more readable version click here

Early view of the church from the south

Early view of the Church from the south.

Early view of the church from the north

Early view of the Church from the north. Early view of the church from the north

The Building of St. Martin's

The necessary arrangements to build the church were well underway by April 1861 when the chosen contractor submitted his final agreement to the architect:

Scarborough, April 6th 1861
G.F. Bodley, Esquire
                I will undertake to complete the whole of the various work required to be done in building a Church called "St. Martins on the Hill" South Cliff according to proposed Plans and Specifications by yourself.

Lithograph 1861

Lithograph 12th Dec 1861
Bodley's first proposal for the church.
The spire was replaced by the saddle
back tower in the final design.

The final sum for the building of the church of £6,328/16/5 was accepted and, with considerable ceremony, the foundation stone was laid on 7th November 1861. Miss Mary Craven was unfortunately ill for this ceremony, but was represented by her sister, Anne. However, her prayer of dedication associating her father, R. Martin Craven, with the church was read aloud by Archdeacon Long, who laid the stone:

If a sinner such as I very much am, may dare to utter the wish, may heaven bless this Church, and may it give help to the saving of souls. I have a strong affection for Scarborough; I had a deep love for my father, as was his life to me I trust, is now his memory and his example.

With an engraved silver trowel and mallet the stone was set in place. Both instruments carried the inscription:

Presented to Miss Mary Craven by the inhabitants of the South Cliff, Scarborough, on the occasion of the laying of the first stone of St. Martin on the Hill, Scarborough, in testimony of the high esteem they entertain of her generous character and energy in promoting the erection of the new Church, 7th November 1861.

In his address to those assembled the Archdeacon pointed out that although Miss Mary Craven had guaranteed funds he hoped that the wider community would not disregard its duty. Recent coastal storms, he added, had passed, but worse dangers lurked ....

the pleasures, vanities and pride of life this resort so abundantly offers to its visitors ....

He recommended the church as a lifeboat for sinners for which all should do their utmost.
The laying of the foundation stone was followed by a grand dinner at The Prince of Wales Hotel for the 134 workmen engaged on the Church. The dinner was Miss Craven's idea, and a good time was had by all.

The church was built with Whitby sandstone from the Aislably quarries twenty-five miles away.

Bodley employed the then newly-launched firm of William Morris and Company, of Red Lion Square, London, to tackle most aspects of the church's interior design and decoration, and it took Morris and his partners ten years to complete the work. As a result of this St. Martin's boasts one of the most comprehensive collections of Pre-Raphaelite religious art to be found in any one building.

You can see work by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, Ford Madox Brown, William Morris and several other lesser artists of the Pre-Raphaelite School of 19th century English art. The quality of their stained glass windows is reckoned to be second only to that of the very best medieval glass. 

Early Problems

The church was completed by April 1863, but its consecration was delayed by what today seems an unusual argument. It was common in those days for wealthier families to rent seats in a pew for their exclusive use. This rent provided an income for the vicar rather than free collections. However, the Rev'd R.H. Parr proposed that all the seats in the church should be free, and in this he was strongly supported by Miss Mary Craven.
This caused a considerable local row, and attempts were made through the archbishop to prevent free seats, but through Miss Mary Craven's support the opposition was overcome and the new church was consecrated by Archbishop Thompson of York on 11th July 1863.

Later Additions

The first addition, in 1869, was a vestry and sacristy (room for the vestments and vessels of the church).

The original church soon proved to be too small for the rapidly expanding South Cliff population, and plans were soon developed by Bodley to extend it. In 1879 the seating capacity was increased to 1200. To do this the west end was reconstructed with a new bay, baptistry and narthex (porch or vestibule found in early Christian churches, extending across the width of the nave at the opposite end to the altar, originally used by those not in full communion).

One further addition was made in 1902 when the north aisle chapel was extended east as far as Carlton Terrace to form the present Lady Chapel. Again the architect was Bodley, and the church as it now stands is more or less as he left it. Top