23. St Mary-the-Virgin, Bramshott
This church dates from 1220 when the original chancel was built as a private chapel for Bramshott Manor. Two transepts were added in 1400 whilst the present nave was rebuilt in 1871. The attractive wooden spire dates from 1800. The belfry is in a central position in front of the chancel. The six bells, dating from 1784, were rehung in 1989 in memory of Boris Karloff the actor "who lived and died within the sound of the bells."
The nave, with its white-washed walls and rounded pillars, is full of stained glass commemorating local worthies. These include Alexander Macmillan who founded the famous publishing company, Lady Ann Hawkshaw wife of Sir John Hawkshaw a Victorian railway engineer who lived at Hollycombe House, and a former Rector Canon William Wolfe Capes who is depicted as St Barnabas.
The East Window is a particular tribute to the Canadian troops stationed on Bramshott in both world wars. The three lancet windows show the Virgin Mary and Child as well as the arms of all the Canadian provinces. Even the beautiful kneelers, so recently completed, depict the Canadian flag and Canadian flowers. In the nave stand a canopied priest's stall, a lectern and desk presented in 1954 in memory of these troops. At the rear of the nave hangs the Canadian Red Ensign.
In the Transept can be seen the grave slab and brasses (c.1430) of John and Elizabeth Weston, Lord and Lady of Chiltlee Manor, a seventeenth century communion table and a fifteenth century plaster with the inscription "IHS". Underneath the table lies the tomb of John Hooke (d.1613), who built Bramshott and later became Lord of the Manor. Both the North and South transepts have fine fifteenth century timbered roofs.
There are many memorial tablets in the church commemorating local families such as Inigo Triggs a celebrated architect. Perhaps the saddest is that in memory of Osmond Mowatt, a graduate of Caius College Cambridge, who served throughout the Boer War only to die of wounds following a cavalry charge near Manchy le Preux-Arras in April 1917. In the chancel there are four coloured shields showing parish ties with the dioceses of Portsmouth and Winchester, Oxford University and Queens College Oxford (patrons of the living since 1685).
One should not leave without walking around the huge churchyard, the largest in Hampshire. 318 Canadian soldiers are buried here as well as a number of merchant seamen, many of them victims of the flu epidemic of 1918/9. Each year a Canada Day Service is held on the Sunday nearest July 1st attended by many Canadian veterans.
written by John Symonds
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