ST. MARTIN'S CHURCH - THOMPSON
Thompson church is dedicated to St. Martin, a popular saint of the early church, which may indicate that an earlier, Saxon, church stood on the site. Late thirteenth-century documents indicate that monks held land in Thompson, while in 1307 there was a lawsuit over the advowson; both point to a religious presence prior to the date of the church building. Most of the present church dates from the early to mid fourteenth century, with fifteenth-century additions and it is one of the finest examples of the Decorated style of architecture in East Anglia.
Location and Early History
Thompson is an ancient settlement whose origins may date from before the ninth century. The name is probably a hybrid, which derives from "Tumi's Tun": Tumi being a Danish personal name while Tun is a Saxon ending denoting a small settlement. The ancient route of Peddars Way forms part of the parish boundary.
The principle landowners in the fourteenth century were the de Thomeston family, who took their name from the manor. The name died out into the female line through the Crowe family and eventually descended into the de Shardelowe family via the marriage of Agnes Crowe to Sir John de Sharedelowe, a Justice of the King. On his death, Sir John's two younger sons, John and Thomas de Shardelowe inherited the capital manor of Thompson.
In 1349, the year following the ravages of the Black Death, the church was endowed with all their manorial lands as a collegiate church by the two brothers. The simple rules stated that six brethren, one of whom was to be elected Master, were to live and eat together in a small college or chantry built for them; the remains are still evident in the present College Farm. Benefactors gave many subsequent gifts of land in various parts of the country, making Thompson a wealthy place.
Upon Dissolution, in 1541, the college and its possessions were handed over by the last Master, Robert Audeley, and the remaining five brethren. The village has never again had a resident vicar. By the early 1600s the church showed no sign of its earlier wealth, it was in a poor state with the chancel roof leaking. Major restoration took place in the mid 1600s and again in 1913.
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