This pretty little Parish Church is in my mother's home village, Ashurst in Kent. The first picture was taken at Easter time in 1980, the rest in 2004. During my vacations from University I used to practice on the pipe organ here - it's a manual tracker action organ and very hard on the fingers!
St Martin of Tours Church was first built between 921 and 927 AD and was used as a monk house. Since then it has had three major restorations. It was partially rebuilt in 1229/30, and then again after being greatly damaged by fire in 1240. The last major changes came in 1860 when the Rector at that time, Rev H Polhill, undertook a complete restoration because of the church’s poor state of repair. These renovations took place over a period of 22 years and included rebuilding one corner of the Chancel, removing a gallery, replacing the old pews, adding the vestry on the north side and lowering the floor by two feet. When the floor was lowered the old stone altar was found in the Chancel and was returned to its rightful place, where it is still in use today.
This is the view of the church as it is now approached and entered through the west door beneath the wooden tower.
The font is of the late Norman period. There is an arched recess across the north east corner of the Chancel which is said to have contained an altar to St Anne who was the patroness of miners, reflecting the connection of this part of the world to ironstone mining at one time. Indeed gardeners in the village commonly dig up pieces of ironstone slag to this day.
The wooden belfry on the tower at the west end is unusual in this part of the country. It houses a peal of three bells, one of which dates from 1612. I remember well these being rung by one person - one in each hand and one on a foot!
Here is the interior of the church looking east and west, with the timber work of the tower clear to see above the western stone arch.
This historic picture of the church (pre 1900) is on the wall in the church. It makes interesting comparison with the ones above. Many changes in 100 years plus!
In the gable of the south porch is the Rivers family coat of arms, dating from their baronetcy in 1621, and above it is a pillar sundial which was added in 1643. This sundial was given to the parish of Ashurst in 1634 by Elias Allen, the most famous mathematical instrument maker of his day and believed to be the son of Robert Allen, the Rector from 1572-1587. Both the coat of arms and sundial are just visible in the first photograph above and are shown closer in the picture below.
The most attractive window, in my opinion, is in the south wall above the font, and depicts Jesus with children.
The rest of the windows are shown here in order around the church. The first depicting the resurrection and the second St Martin of Tours and St Augustine of Canterbury.
Sadly, the least beautiful window occupies pride of place above the altar.
The window depicting the raising of Lazarus, in the north wall behind the pulpit, is inscribed "To the memory of Geo Field Esq 1876 Erected by his children." The small window is inscribed "To the Glory of God and in loving memory of Richard Walter Tweedie and Mary Louisa his wife. Dedicated by their daughters A. D. 1926."
Here is the pulpit.
The final view is of the north side of the church from the east. The Victorian vestry and organ room rather spoil this elevation.
The Kent Archaeological Society has interesting early pictures of this church, here.
Scanned 35mm slide & digital photos
Visitors to this album since June 2003
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