The fire and rebuilding

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The fire

Although Hitler had a go at St Martin's in 1944, the greatest disaster in the history of the church occurred on 4 November 1989 when fire started in the south east corner. During that dreadful morning the chancel, the organ, the east and south transept windows and most of the roof were destroyed. The nave also suffered much damage from smoke and water, but prompt action on the part of the fire brigade managed to stop the fire reaching the tower and bells. It was a very memorable occasion when we rang out on the day following the blaze, with the odd wisps of smoke still showing, and with the acrid smell of burnt timber all around. The picture on the far right on the second row below showing the view we had from the tower window is particularly evocative.

View from top of tower View from ringing chamber window


The architects for the rebuilding project were Peake Short & Partners with Durtnell's (the 1591-established Brasted building firm) as the main contractors. The work started in February 1991, with completion in April 1992. The first service in the restored building was on Maundy Thursday, 16 April 1992. The new organ and east window were installed a little later and the refurbished building was rededicated by the Rt Rev Michael Turnbull, Bishop of Rochester, on 15 November that year.

Nave arches Roof trusses Roof and 'porthole' windows
Chancel arch Looking down into chancel Outside view from SE