The church is dedicated to St. Cuthbert, Bishop of Lindisfarne and one of the most important Northern Saints, born about 634 who died in 687. His great personal achievements, coupled with the incorruption of his body for several hundred years ensured lasting fame. This popularity was further stimulated in 1104 when his body, still incorrupt, was translated to its purpose built resting place in Durham Cathedral and it was about this time when our Church was dedicated to his name.
The early years of Marton Church are shrouded in mystery. There is no record of its foundation, but there is evidence that it is 12th century Norman. At that time the overlords of the present Parish of Marton were the de Brus family, the most powerful Norman lords in North East Yorkshire; ancestors of Robert the Bruce of Scotland. They had founded Guisborough Priory in 1119, and succeeding generations of the family bestowed gifts of land and property on this and other religious houses in the area. The church at Marton was one of those gifts to Guisborough, given before 1187.
So it remained until 1540 when the Priory was dissolved by King Henry VIII, all the property belonging to the Priory reverting to the Crown. In 1545 the living of Marton was granted to the See of York where it remains to this day.
Perhaps Marton’s most famous son, Captain James Cook was baptised in the church on the 3rd November 1728. Cook went on to become a renowned explorer and navigator whose achievements in mapping the Pacific, New Zealand and Australia radically changed western perceptions of world geography. As one of the very few men in the 18th century navy to rise through the ranks, Cook was particularly sympathetic to the needs of ordinary sailors.
In the 1840’s a major refurbishment took place, mainly financed by J.B. Rudd the local squire. A later pen portrait in the Parish magazine tells us that the Church was “restored, widened, and lengthened so that it became, from a little whitewashed, flat ceilinged, sash-windowed, dilapidated edifice with only two aisles and one transept, into the present beautiful building”.
In 1951 a memorial window with a depiction of Captain James Cook was installed in the church funded by the Bolckow family. The dedication reads “In loving memory of Henry W.F. Bolckow 1865-1947, Bessy M.Bolckow 1867-1944 H.Cuthbert R. Bolckow 1897-1944 This window was given by Dorothy M.Bolckow.”