St Martin's, Gospel Oak

St Martin's was built for, and continues to serve, a poor north London parish. The modern visitor will be guided to the church by its immensely tall tower, threading his way through blocks of local authority flats rather than the original roads of terraced houses. It is through a huge arch at the base of the tower that the point of entry is made. The rough Kentish ragstone exterior, with its confusing massing of shapes, gable ends, bays, roofs, parapets and obelisk-like pinnacles, does nothing to prepare the visitor for the interior. Originally there were two great arches through the north-west and north sides of the tower. Sadly one is now obscured by the addition of a chapel. But the drama of the entrance is not entirely lost as the visitor approaches the soaring tower and enters a chamber at its base, the walls still blackened by smoke from the nearby railway.

Through a porch and into the church and it is to the left that the chief part of the building lies. But a pause to read the inscription on a large marble tablet in front of us will tell us something of the history of this extraordinary building and help us to understand it. It is a memorial to:

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.