The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville


Festival Edition 2011

Country Churches

129. St Mary the Virgin, Funtington

Much of this church was rebuilt in the 1850’s when Canon Douglas was vicar so the feeling inside is overwhelmingly Victorian, though the tower dates from the 15th century and the north east chapel from the 13th century.

In the south west corner of the nave is a very fine engraved glass window designed and cut by Simon Whistler. It is in memory of Captain Sir Robert William Stirling Hamilton RN and Twelfth Baronet. He was a former churchwarden who died in 1982. Two coats of arms are also shown.

On the wall close to the west window is a most interesting millennium parish map. Beautifully coloured and designed the parish map in the centre extends as far as the neighbouring parishes of East and West Ashley and West Stoke. The map is surrounded by delicate paintings of the church and various village houses, interspersed with many flowers and animals found locally. A most impressive work of art.

Near the west door there is a memorial tablet to Lt Alfred Higgins who was killed in action at Wahsien on the Yangtse River on 5 September 1926 “whilst rescuing a fellow countryman from the Chinese”. Another memorial on the south wall relates to Able Seaman Geoffrey White, who was accidentally drowned in the North Sea on the night of January 23 1916.

Alongside a third, more modern memorial, commemorates Lord Portal of Hungerford, his wife and daughters. He was Chief of Air Staff during the Second World War and was much involved in the planning of the bombing offensive against Germany. His ashes are interred in the churchyard. Another smaller memorial on the north wall is worth noting. It commemorates Jessie Elizabeth Sparkes who died in 1989 in her 109th year and states “Her forbears worshipped here for many centuries”. Nearby a painted board designed by Michael Renton lists all the parish priests of the church since 1174.

The most modern window can be seen over the door in the north west corner. Three blue roundels showing a dove descending were placed there in memory of Dennis Pullar (d 1982) and his wife Norah (d 1980). The door leads through to a fine new parish room built in 2006.

The large churchyard contains the village war memorial whilst close to the south door is the tomb of Richard Churcher and his family. A pharmacist in Petersfield who died in 1723 he left money in his will to found a school there to train cadets for service in the East India Company. Thus was founded Churchers College Petersfield. Another tomb alongside the church path is that of Admiral of the Fleet Sir Provo William Parry Wallis GCB. He died in 1892 aged 100.

John Symonds