I am in no way religious, so was surprised to hear myself agreeing to visit St. Martins Church in Birmingham City Centre with a friend recently. The church is hundreds of years old and the stunning gothic appearance of the church stands out beautifully next to the ultra modern Bullring and surrounding stores.
The church is open to the public daily from 10am - 5pm, although this is a working church so be aware there are services at various times throughout the day. You may wish to attend (or avoid!) these so do get in touch with the church before your visit to check the times of the services.
The church is huge inside, even bigger than the outside would suggest. It's light and airy inside thanks to the large windows and appropriate lighting, the stained glass windows are absolutely gorgeous and really do stand out as the focal point of the church. The light coming through the largest window is beautifully fragmented in the different colours and it gives a wonderful effect.
It was done out a few years ago inside and now the interior seems much larger than it did when I visited as a child. The pews are beautiful and have been arranged to make the most of the space inside the church, it's easy to wander around and take in all the aspects of the decor. I found the church was fairly busy but it's so big inside that we didn't feel hemmed in with lots of other people and everyone kept themselves to themselves while looking around.
One thing to look out for is the gorgeous font, it has quite a contemporary design and was made in 2003. It's totally unlike any font I've seen before and although it has an extremely modern look it still manages to stay in keeping with the rest of the churches interior. It also has a soothing water feature effect, although I'm not sure die-hard Christians would appreciate me describing it like this!
I'm surprised to say I really enjoyed my visit to St. Martins Church, it was so calm and peaceful inside that I could almost see why people choose to spend their Sunday mornings in church! Me, I'd rather be at a car boot sale!
We had a cup of coffee in the St. Martins Church cafe and could also have had something to eat, but we'd already decided to go to Pizza Hut so didn't dare eat anything here. The cakes in particular looked absolutely delicious so if I come again, and I probably will bring the kids over the holidays, then I shall definitely be sampling one of these.
While I love the church itself, my real affection for St. Martin lies in the way that it's managed to remain a real and meaningful component of the Bullring area. The church manages to somehow blend seamlessly into the bustling modern spaces that surround it on all sides. The church cafe provides a central hub for meeting. Musicians play out front while idle shoppers laze in it's shade.
For me, the way in which the church has managed to stay so relevant and oft used in a changing urban landscape really reminds me of what i love most about Birmingham. It is a beautiful city. But a busy, moving, commercial city. The snippits of classical beauty, like St. Martins, often blend in too well, letting us forget that they're here, with us.
This review is more on the cafe attached to church then the church it self.
i went to market the other day and thought it would be nice to go to church cafe however even though there is plenty of seating i thought it was over priced but that as student i do try get my moneys worth. I was slightly confused also as it is a church cafe how come they sold alcohol
Part of Birmingham long history. Amongst the hustle and bustle of our modern Bullring shopping centre is a church that represents so much in the heart of our city.
This church has really benefitted from the redevelopment of the Bullring area. It is now the focal point as shoppers walk down the plaza running between the halves of the shopping centre. Regardless of your religious beliefs, it is quite nice to see such a spiritual haven amongst the sea of consumerism
It is really lovely to sit on the steps just by Mango and gaze out at the church and the nearby markets.
The church is in the gothic style, with a towering pointed spire in sandy coloured stone. I love the way it is juxtaposed with the futuristic bulge of the Selfridges building.
Inside, there is a grand old pipe organ and some stunning stained glass - including a window that combines the work of artistic legends William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones.
The church does a lot of community work and also runs a café.
Having shown a friend round the Bullring who was visiting Birmingham from London, I thought St Martins Church would be an ideal tourist venture, and although he wasn't religious he appreciated this all the same.
All visitors are welcome here, and although they do have regular services you don't have to sign up as it were, but can just admire the view, decor and beauty of this magnificent building.
I like how they display craft work from different communities. There is also a lovely cafe downstairs which I would recommend, great for lunch and refreshments. Perfect for a quiet get away from the madness of the shopping at the Bullring, and a great central location.
I can't really give this 5 stars as I'm not reviewing St. Martin's religious services or community services, although if you are religious you can expect more than just a worship service here as they also have quizzes, barn dances, art workshops, concerts and retreats.
I love this building, and one of the best parts of the redevelopment of the Bullring was the open walkway between the behemoth shopping mall to the vista of St. Martin's. It always felt swarmed by the old bullring and the sea of market stalls at it's door but now it can stand tall and proud. The restoration that was undertaken as part of the Bullring re-development lifted the entire building.
If you love art then take a visit to this great example of gothic architecture, admittedly there is a fair bit of it around Brum. The stand out feature for me is the the window opposite the organ pipes that combines the work of the Pre-Raphaelite Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris. It was very nearly lost during WW2 when other windows were destroyed and was only boxed and saved in time before a second bomb struck the area.
I'm sure you'll find yourself at the bullring anyway so I urge you to take a break, maybe have a coffee in the church instead of Starbucks and take in the church's beauty. you don't have to be religious to appreciate the art and the craftsmanship.
great church lively worship and very friendly staff on the help desk. it is open all week and is amazing.