|History of St Martin's|
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.
The 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.
Services are held in the church every Sunday.
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.