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Out of the ordinary

12 October 2012

A CHURCH porch is usually a convenient covered entrance into a church, handy for displaying notices, or a place where the homeless sleep. It is rather more than that at Sarum St Martin, in Salisbury. The church is the oldest in the city, and was there long before the present cathedral. Its early rectors date back to the 11th century, and those in the 12th and 13th centuries were also Deans of Sarum.

St Martin's porch has always included a stepped entrance to the bell tower, and has been large enough to incorporate the tomb of a local dignitary of the 15th century. Now it is even more impressive: it has had a reordering that began when the lead was stolen from the porch roof, which triggered a rethink about how the porch could be enhanced.

It now has a spire-shaped glass roof, making it a light and spacious entrance to the church. Adjacent to it is the Corpus Christi Chapel, which now contains the parish office and cloakroom facilities.

The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, recently came to bless and dedicate it (left). As the Bishop was formerly the incumbent at St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, and is now patron, a churchwarden at Sarum St Martin, Robert Hayes, says, it seemed right that he should carry on his association with the miracle-working saint.

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