Building » Lydd – St Martin of Tours

Lydd – St Martin of Tours

High Street, Lydd, Kent

A curious small building in a crude version of the Gothic style, constructed by the Folkestone builder Otto Marx and possibly designed by him. The ornaments and fittings of the church are of the simplest. The building was principally intended to serve the nearby military camps.

In 1895 the Diocese of Southwark purchased a plot of land at the western end of Lydd High Street for a chapel and a future house for the priest. This was done to provide a chaplain to serve the forces stationed at Lydd camp. A wooden chapel was built on the site but was destroyed by fire in the early 1920s. The present church was erected in 1931-2. Otto Marx of Folkestone was the builder and may also have provided the design. It is clear that a large building was intended but there seems to be no information about the original design.


St Martin’s is a simple building in a crude version of the Gothic style. The plan comprises an aisleless nave with stair tower projections either side of the main front. The walls are faced with stone laid in regular courses and the roof is covered with plain tiles. The gabled west elevation has a moulded plinth from which rise four flat buttresses, curiously extended above the eaves line, which divide the front into five bays. In the central bay is a pointed doorway under a hoodmould, with a pointed window above with ‘Y’ tracery. The narrow flanking bays have small round windows at low level with vesica-shaped windows above. The outermost bays are the west faces of the demi-octagonal stair projections, which have three round windows in the main sides with a pointed window in the upper part of the principal sides. To the east of the stair towers the side walls of the church are of three bays, divided by buttresses. In each bay are three lancet windows with moulded surrounds. The blind east wall is faced with render and the corner masonry has toothings suggesting that it was intended to extend the church eastwards.

The main interior space has a boarded floor, bare masonry walls and an open timber crown-post roof with principal trusses resting on stone corbels in the walls. The side walls are severely plain with the window openings punched through. The windows are all clear-glazed. The east end wall has a simple arched moulding over the altar. The treatment of the west end is whimsical. The central pointed doorway from the vestibule is flanked by half-arches of similar form which die into the walls. Above the main doorway is a broad pointed opening to the western gallery above the vestibule, which has a bowed balcony with pierced tracery. The fittings are very simple: timber benches, communion rails, altar and reredos, which probably all date from the 1930s.

Heritage Details

Architect: Otto Marx (builder)

Original Date: 1931

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed