St Martin Orgar

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St Martin Orgar Tower
St Martin Orgar Tower

St Martin Orgar in Martin Lane off Canon Street is famous from the children’s nursery rhyme “Oranges & Lemons” in the couplet

You owe me five farthings

Say the bells of St Martin

Although, to be truthful, it could in fact refer to any one of the five churches dedicated to St Martins (of which only one remains) that you can explore on the St Martin & St Benet walk.

The church was originally known as St Martin Candlewick Street – the latter being the medieval name for Canon Street. We are not sure of the exact date the church was founded but excavations in 1987 showed that the church had late Saxon foundations. In the 12th Century, it was given to St Paul’s by Orgar the Deacon and so assumed his name. We know what that church looked like from the Wyngaerde Panorama of 1543 shown here.

St Martin Orgar Wyngaerde Panorama 1543
St Martin Orgar Wyngaerde Panorama 1543
St Martin Orgar Foundations
St Martin Orgar Foundations
St Martin Orgar by Shepherd
St Martin Orgar by Shepherd

The building was almost completely destroyed in the Great Fire with only the tower left standing. It was then restored and used by French Protestants until 1820. That building is shown in the illustration by Shepherd just before its demolition. That building was then demolished and the tower was rebuilt in 1850 by John Davies and used as the bell tower for nearby St Clement Eastcheap. The brick top that you see today was previously an elegant cupola which disappeared sometime before 1935.

So what remains of St Martin Orgar today? The tower stands where the old tower stood but is not part of the original fabric of the church. The graveyard is still there. If you look up above the blue plaque commemorating the lost church you will see a small green space with a stature of St Martin. This the old churchyard.

St Martin Orgar Blue Plaque
St Martin Orgar Blue Plaque
St Martin Orgar Churchyard
St Martin Orgar Churchyard

You can also find a old parish boundary marker that has been mounted on the wall at St Magnus the Martyr, although the parish of St Martin Orgar was united with St Clement Eastcheap not St Magnus the Martyr.

St Martin Orgar Boundary Markers
St Martin Orgar Boundary Markers at St Magnus The Martyr

St Martin Orgar in Wikipedia

St Martin Orgar in the Parish Clerks Website