St Martin at Oak

This church takes its name from the oak tree that used to stand in the churchyard and which, in the Middle Ages, housed an image of the Virgin Mary.

Exterior

The church appears to be missing a tower, but it does in fact have the remains of one, converted into a west porch in 1953, after bomb damage in 1942. Some of the carved stonework from the battlemented top was reused lower down. There is a west door under a window with Y-tracery, and now a stepped gable.

The stair turrets are also very eye-catching – one for the tower itself, and the other for the south porch.

The nave has four Perpendicular windows on the north side, while the south aisle has similar ones – and this aisle can be dated to 1491. There is no clerestorey, and one sweep of roof covers nave and aisle.

 

The chancel was complete by 1441, but heavily rebuilt, though preserving the features of the original, in 1852, including the Decorated windows, and the wall-arches round them on the inside. It was a flourishing church in the later nineteenth century, and plans were made for adding a north aisle, but this did not happen. Unlike many of the other City churches, St Martin’s was not part of the Anglo-Catholic movement, but was a noted centre of evangelical religion, and apart from the replacement of the old square ‘horsebox pews’ with open benches, its furnishings remained much the same in 1926 as they had been in 1826.

Interior

Nothing of the original furnishings remains. After war damage, it was refitted for use as a parish hall in 1953 – and this included adding the extra entrance to the chancel by the rood stair turret.

The chancel was bricked in, and retained as a place of worship; the south aisle was divided into a number of rooms.

Between the aisle and nave the arcade is of four bays, with Perpendicular shafts. The nave roof is arch-braced.

From 1978 until 2004, the church was used as a night shelter for the homeless, and further alterations were made in order to accommodate this use.

The most elaborate monument was to Jeremiah Revans (died 1727), but this is currently in store.

The church has recently been converted into an arts studio and exhibition space which is ideally suited to the well lit and extremely spacious interior.

Churches managed by NHCT are highlighted in in bold below. Click to visit a church.
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St. Andrew St. Giles St. Lawrence St. Peter Hungate
St. Augustine St. Gregory St. Margaret St. Peter Mancroft
St. Benedict St. Helen St. Martin at Oak St. Peter Parmentergate
St. Clement St. James Pockthorpe St. Martin at Palace Plain St. Saviour
St. Edmund Fishergate St. John de Sepulchre St. Mary Coslany St. Simon & St. Jude
St. Etheldreda St. John Maddermarket St. Mary the Less St. Stephen
St. George Colegate St. John Timberhill St. Michael(Miles) Coslany St. Swithin