91. St Martin's Ellisfield
A few miles south of Basingstoke in lovely North Hampshire countryside lies the small village of Ellisfield named after King Aelle who landed in Sussex in 477. The present 13th century church of St Martin, extensively restored in Gothic style in the late 19th century, replaced an earlier Saxon church mentioned in the Domesday Book.
An avenue of pleached lime trees runs from the lychgate to the church door under the Gothic Revival tower built in 1884. On top of the tower note the unusual pineapple shaped weather vane which supposedly represents a louse.
Ancient tombstones run down the centre of the nave floor including Nathaniel Cranford d.1691, Martha Pile d.1694 and Cornelius Pile d.1701. The font is Early English, rather plain with an octagonal top. On the north wall hangs the coat of arms of George III. Near the vestry door four Crusader crosses can be seen in the stone arch.
An attractive stained glass window dating from 1965 depicts St Francis surrounded by birds and animals. These include lambs, sheep, cows, a horse, dogs, blue tits, an owl, robins and a rook. A neat silver cross on the wall alongside has the names of the village war dead inscribed on it. On the opposite wall is a memorial to two brothers of the Pigott family. One Lancelot Botry Pigott was killed in action at Krithia in Gallipoli in August 1915, whilst Davrell Botry Pigott was drowned in Horrice Bay, Lake Victoria Nysanza, in 1911.
A small prayer desk close to the font is of some historical interest. It once belonged to John Coleridge Patteson, Bishop of Melanesia, who was murdered on the island of Nukapu in 1871. It was made in New Zealand and has a Greek inscription, which in translation reads 'A bishop to a priest, a colleague to a colleague, a fellow soldier to a fellow soldier.' A touching tribute to a missionary martyr.
The chancel has Gothic Revival windows, the east window portraying a Resurrection scene. Close by is an 18th century memorial to the Rev Joseph Humphreys a former rector who died in 1765 'once distinguished as an excellent preacher in the city of Bath'. In the south wall is a small Agnus Dei window. The chancel has a scissor beam roof in contrast to the hammer beam roof of the nave.
Looking back to the west end under the tower two small stained glass windows catch the eye. They are comprised of pieces of stained glass resembling mosaic tiles. On the left is the theme of the Cross, with the hand of God sending down the love of the Holy Spirit. The sun and moon are alongside and below two trees symbolising the Garden of Eden. Two birds represent two human spirits and the four rivers of Eden flow from the foot of the Cross. Below are the arms of the Pigott family. Two right hand windows depict the heavenly Jerusalem above a Crown resting on a tree representing Paradise. A roe deer is shown sitting below the tree. These attractive windows date from 1962.
The five bells of the tower have no inscriptions but are of Spanish origin, possibly seized from Spanish ships off Southampton by William de Boarhunt in medieval times. On the outside stonework of the 15th century windows are dripstones with carved heads.
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