66. Holy Cross, Binsted
This small village lies just north-east of Alton and west of Alice Holt forest. The 12th century church with its tower topped by a spire is attractively situated in a large well kept churchyard in the centre of the village. Though founded in 1140 most of the present nave and tower were added 50 years later.
Despite the high timbered roof the interior is rather dark and gloomy but the large stained glass east window c.1870, depicting Christ being taken down from the Cross makes a nice splash of colour. There is no other stained glass in the church apart from a small medieval fragment in a lancet window near the font which shows the arms of Sir Henry Wallop and dates from 1578.
There is a fine double piscina in the south wall of the chapel as well as an aumbry in the north wall. Close by is a plaque commemorating Henry Heighes who died in 1595. An older 16th century tomb can be seen in an arched recess in the adjacent Maiden chapel. Hidden away in the choir vestry on the north side is the Crusader tomb of Richard of Westcote. It is not dated but it is possible that he fought in the Seventh Crusade led by Edward I. He lies there peacefully clad in mail and wearing a helmet. A Norman French inscription reads "Richard of Westcote lies dead here. May God have mercy on his soul. Amen."
The massive rounded stone pulpit is impressive. It has the words 'He that heareth my Word speak my word faithfully' inscribed in red stone lettering around it.
The circular columns of the nave have square scalloped capitals and high above a series of small lancet windows can be seen. The tower itself has a fine peal of six bells some dating from the 17th century. A medieval Angelus bell hangs outside.
There is an attractive memorial above one of the nave pillars to William Dickin Ogilvy of the 20 Hussars who died of wounds in France in March 1918 during the great German offensive, whilst on the south wall is a World War Two memorial to Mark Manwaring Robertson killed at Klang in Malaya on January 10 1942 during the retreat to Singapore.
But the most famous memorial in the church is the large banner showing a golden lion hanging at the back of the church. This is the personal banner of Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery of Alamein which once hung in Westminster Abbey. It was presented to the church by his son David following his father's funeral in the church on April 1 1976. Before leaving walk down to the far corner of the churchyard where his tomb can be seen and alongside a seat presented by veterans of the Eighth Army. A great surprise to find such a famous soldier buried in a country churchyard but it all makes a visit to Binsted well worth while.
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