St Martin's Church

St Martin’s extends a warm welcome to residents, visitors and holiday makers throughout the year and is open every day. It is also a very popular venue for wedding services. The church tower is open occasionally, offering beautiful views .

RECTOR: Position Vacant

CHURCHWARDEN: Position Vacant. 

Contact the church team on: 01308 897260

Saint Martin's church supports the safeguarding policy of the Diocese of Salisbury:  for details contact  the Bride valley Benefice safeguarding officer: Les Keatley:

Covid Compliant: please see information in porch. 

SERVICES. The details of services are available in the church porch, on the noticeboard at the bottom of the drive and online at (search for Shipton Gorge), where you can also view photos of St Martins and find out more about the life of the church – as well as how to make an enquiry for baptism or weddings.  St Martin’s, Shipton Gorge is part of the Bride Valley Benefice and there is a Facebook page for the Bride Valley Churches where lots of details about events and services across all our churches are shared.

At Shipton Gorge, there are generally two services a month;  Breakfast Church, held in the Village Hall at 9.30am on the 2nd Sunday of each month (apart from August) and a service on the 4th Sunday of the month, usually Holy Communion at 11.00am.

Breakfast Church starts with a light breakfast, followed by hymns, a bible story and a related craft, prayers and another hymn.

Occasionally , there are other special services, including A Pets Service, Harvest Festival - and there is always a service on Easter Day and Christmas Day.

In addition, a member of the clergy team from the valley also records a service each week, which can be heard via the telephone - just call 01308 293062. Depending on your package, the call will be cost free or charged at the local rate.

Visitors can always be assured of a warm Shipton Gorge welcome - do come and join us.


Bell Tower

Contact: Elizabeth Ferguson 07799751130

Shipton Gorge Bellringers  meet every Wednesday evening, contact Elizabeth for more information.

The tower now houses six bells; one is dated 1655. Recent history of the bells:- the tower, belfry and bells were restored and a treble added in 1911 at a cost of £189.19s.3d which was subscribed publicly and included the following generous gifts:-

Rev. W. Roper M.A.Ox, LRCP, LRCS Edin £105
The Rt. Hon. The Earl of Ilchester £25

In 1995 a most generous gift was received specifically for the addition of two light bells. These were cast by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in early summer 1996. In July, the renovated ring of four were re-hung along with the two new bells - all six being tuned into the major scale - the finished weights being:

BellCwtQtrsLbs The inscriptions on the bells read:
12211 Donated by Ernest Amey, Bridport 1996
22227 John Atkinson - Rector, Jack Willy, John Epplestone - Churchwardens 1996
33119 Rr. F.T.H. Cws. S.G. J.S. - 1910
43221 Made by Thomas Purdue - recast by John Warner 1910
5403 Made by Thomas Purdue - crown staple replaced by Whitechapel 1996
64324 Recast by John Warner 1910

History of St. Martin's

St Martin's Church

The Church of St. Martin stands on a small plateau on the south side of Brook Street and it is visible from almost everywhere in the village. It retains its original early 15th century tower with an elaborate doorway, but the remainder of the church was rebuilt in 1862 in what was described as a rather cold style. The architect at this time was John Hicks of Dorchester, for whom Thomas Hardy was then working. The contractor, from a village of masons, was one of the Swaffield family. The church has a 13th century font, which is unusual in that it has seven sides.

From the earliest times Shipton church was a "chapel of ease" to Burton Bradstock but it is now independent, although the link remains as it is served by the Bride Valley Team Ministry led by the Rector at Burton Bradstock.

church_towerThe Parish of Shipton Gorge is in the Lyme Bay Deanery, which is in the Diocese of Salisbury. It is one of 460 Parishes in the Diocese. The Church of St. Martin is funded purely by voluntary donations, collections etc., and by fundraising events. The fact that Gift Aid allows the church to claim income tax back from the government is a great help. As well as the upkeep of the church, payments are made to several charities each year as well as a Share to the Diocese. The Share is calculated according to the number of clergy in the Bride Valley Team Ministry, the number of regular churchgoers, and the ability to pay. This amount goes towards supporting the Parishes, Diocesan administration, clergy stipends, pensions and many other items.

The church is floodlit every evening in the winter and weekend evenings in the summer. Parishioners who pay a fee, currently £5 for a week, sponsor the lighting.

Architectural Details

The following description is taken from the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments "Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset", dated 1952:

Parish Church of St Martin, formerly a chapel of Burton Bradstock, stands on the south side of the village. The walls of the tower are of local rubble with dressings of the same material. The West Tower was built c1400 but the rest of the church was entirely rebuilt in 1862. Architectural Description €œ The West Tower (10 feet by 9 feet) is of two stages with an embattled parapet and gargoyles; there is a stair-turret on the South side. The tower-arch is modern. The West doorway has chamfered ...

And from "The History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset" by John Hutchins in 1861

church_sideThe chapel is a small fabric, containing nothing remarkable, situated on a high ground, and consisting of a chancel, body and a small north aisle, all tiled; and a low embattled tower, in which are three bells. It is dedicated to St Martin, on whose festival, or the Sunday following, is the wake. The rector of Burton Bradstock officiates here every Sunday. Between 1620 and 1650 the inhabitants buried in the chapel yard; they have since buried at Burton, for which they pay to the rector 4s. per annum as an acknowledgement. This church has lately been rebuilt, and now comprises, besides the parts above named, a vestry on the north side of the chancel, and a south porch. The details of the style adopted (perpendicular) have been very judiciously carried out, and the arcade of the aisle (four bays) is an excellent rendering of a pattern greatly prevailing in Dorset churches of this date. The roofs have the framework open to the interior; the principal timbers of that of the aisle are supported upon carved corbels of stone. The fittings of the interior include a stone pulpit with handsomely carved panels, and open benches are provided for the congregation. The original font is preserved, and has on the bowl a sunk arcade of pointed arches. The tower was not reconstructed, but has been carefully repaired.

The return to the commission, 1650, was that it was a distinct parish from Burton Regis, to which belongs Upper Stirthill and Broad Stirthill; that Henry Lamb is now minister, by order of parliament, instead of Nicholas Ridgway, delinquent; that the rectors of Burton have, time out of mind, found a minister to supply here at their own charge; that the tithes of Shepton and the Stirthills are worth 50l. per annum, which Mr Lambe receives; that the inhabitants are not able to go to Burton Church, the ways being unpassable in winter. Shipton itself is fit to be divided from Burton, and be entire of itself, there being 250 persons in it, and not one house with a mile of Burton. In 1652 certificate was made by Thomas Gollop of Strode esq. to the committee for plundered ministers, that Mr Lam the rector had agreed, on his first entry into the rectory, that the minister who should officiate at Shipton should have the whole tithes of the inhabitants thereof, who in consequence kept out Lamb from officiating at Shipton, and paid their tithes to one Mr Clarke, who served the church.

church_lych_gateThe Lych Gate

The Lych Gate was refurbished in 2000 to Commemorate 2,000 years of Christianity. A plaque by the gates reads:

These gates were restored in
Thanksgiving for 2000 years of

Further information about the church can be found at the Dorset Historic Church Trust Website