St Martin’s Church

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Waithe is a tiny settlement of a few estate cottages just off the A16 south of Grimsby. The church is no longer used and is now looked after by the Churches Conservation Trust and open every day.

It is set in a small overgrown churchyard with ivy covered graves and snowdrops. Bird song was everywhere.

It is a small church built from the local ironstone and limestone with a central tower and round chancel apse. There is a row of very decorative ridge tiles along the top of the roof and a small stone cross at the end of the chancel apse.

A church is mentioned in Domesday Book and the tower is thought to date from this church with it’s double Saxon/Norman windows. The nave and chancel are later dating from 13thC. The church was completely rebuilt in the 19thC except for the tower. This was paid for by the Haigh family from nearby Grainsby as a worthy mausoleum for the family. Fortunately the Romanesque style has been kept. The bands of brick and limestone on the nave walls and elaborately patterned Minton tiles date from this refurbishment. At the end of the 20thC the church has very overgrown and in poor condition. It was beautifully restored again in 2006 and is beautiful inside.

Entry is through south doorway which has a long, tall lancet window above and a massive wooden door. This leads into a passageway with the vestry off, where there is a light switch.

The nave is separated from the side aisles by columns and pointed arches with floral carvings between them.The walls are covered with bands of red brick and pale limestone. Round the top is a narrow band of green tiles with religious inscriptions. There are two beautiful tile diamonds set in the nave walls above the arches.

There is a simple font at the back of the south aisle. The pale stone pulpit is decorated with darker marble pillars. The Victorian pews are dark pine.

The floor of the nave is covered with black and red tiles with white diamond stripes and a red and white patterned tile at the intersections.

The floor of the tower and chancel are covered with much more elaborately decorated tiles in colours of blue, white, beige and red which form roundels set in green and dark brown diamonds with a small white tile at the intersections.

On the wall of the tower is a memorial stone to the 1861 restoration.

The chancel is stunning with the lower part of the wall lined with green, purple, white and beige tiles with flower decorations. On the wall above are memorials to different members of the Haigh Family. These are set between marble pillars with flower and foliage capitals and pointed arches. Round the top is a narrow frieze of beige tiles with a white flower. Above this are more green tiles with religious exhortations

There are more green tiles beneath the altar rail with the message “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy ladened and I will refresh you”.

There is a simple wood altar with tiled reredos behind with a pattern of white doves on green and gold tiles. The dark wood rafters form the spokes of a wheel above the altar.

The lancet windows in the chancel contain stained Victorian stained glass and show Jesus entering Jerusalem on an ass, the last supper, the disciples asleep. the crucifixion and Easter morning.

The pews in the chancel are older and have carved ends.

This is a delightful small church and well worth searching out. There is some parking along the verge outside and apart from small steps into the chancel the church is wheelchair friendly.

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