The nave and aisles were rebuilt between 1872 and 1874 by the architect Henry Woodyer. The current building replaced the unpopular intermediate church which had been built only 37 years earlier. The nave continued the grand and spacious 14th century Decorated style of the earlier chancel which was also built by Woodyer in 1868. The foundation stone was laid by Dr Wilberforce, Bishop of Winchester on 29 May 1873 and the new nave and aisles were reopened on 11 June 1874.
The main features of the nave is its high vaulted ceiling supported by six pillars and large Gothic arches. The wooden pews that fill the nave and aisles can seat up to 400 people. The floor is covered in Victorian tiles with floorboards under the pews. The grills along the nave allow warm air to circulate from heating pipes.
At the back of the church is a wooden screen separating the nave from the tower which was given in 1886 in memory of J G Stilwell. The small opening high up in the white tower wall is in the bell ringing chamber which is access via a spiral staircase in the tower. The Gothic chancel arch is richly decorated in opus sectile - see below.
The great crucifixion over the chancel arch is one of the impressive decorative works in St Martin’s Church.
It was designed by G.W. Rhead and made in opus sectile by Powell and Sons in 1892. The remainder of the decoration, with the splendid archangels, was completed between 1901 and 1902 as a memorial to Queen Victoria.
A chancel screen, which had been placed here in 1870, was removed in 1965.
This handsome wooden octagonal pulpit was bought in 1837 for the Intermediate Church from John Webb, a London antique dealer. He must have assembled it from various pieces including some 15th century Netherlandish carvings, one of which shows St. Martin dividing his cloak with the beggar. When the Nave was rebuilt in 1870s, it was reduced in height and placed in its current position.
Made in the same 14th century Decorated style of the nave, the font was given in memory of John Edward and Priestly Mary Bovill. It was dedicated on 7 February 1897.
It stands on a large marble block which has a number of fossils within it.
The west windows show the Annunciation and the Adoration of the Shepherds. They were designed by Henry Holiday, a well-known stained-glass artist and were given to the church in 1884.
South west window (above the Boer War memorial, just to the left as you enter the church): These windows are made up of two lights and tracery. The subject is the Nativity with the Shepherds. It was a new design by Henry Holiday and made in 1884. Henry Holiday was the chief designer at Powells at this time and this is a most beautiful window, perhaps the best in the church. It was commissioned by Mrs Bovill of Sondes Place in memory of her husband John Edward who died in 1882. Together with the four narrow lights in the west tower and the North-west window, the cost £137.00.
North west window (above the children’s area): These windows are made up of two lights and tracery and the subject is the Annunciation. It was also a new design by Henry Holiday and made in 1884; it is part of a pair along with the south west window depicting the Nativity. The window was commissioned by Mrs Bovill of Sondes Place in memory of her husband John Edward, but for some reason Mrs Bovill did not approve of Holiday’s work and in December 1885 the two figures were taken out and new ones, painted by J. W. Brown were substituted at a cost £18 18s. 0d. The fate of Holiday’s original Annunciation is unknown.
All the windows near the roof at the top of the church were made by James Powell & Sons of Whitefriars. The list of windows below is numbered from the east end (starting from the Chancel Arch):
South Clerestory Windows (Lady Chapel side)
Clerestory 1: Two lights and tracery, the subjects are St Augustine and Justin Martyr. St Augustine of Hippo was one of the most influential writers of the Christian church in the 4th century. Justin was an important writer of the 2nd century and was beheaded in Rome. The figures were designed by H. Burrow in 1875 and cost £50.00.
Clerestory 2 and 3: Four lights and tracery showing four figures: St Irenaeus, a Christian of the 2nd century, a writer and a disciple of St Polycarp; St Polycarp, a first century Christian, who knew the apostles; St Clement, who was the third Pope after St Peter; and St Onesiphorus, who is mentioned by St Paul and was martyred under Domitian. The windows were among the last to be designed by Burrow and maybe made by his assistant George Parlby in 1883, They cost £100.00 and were given by Walter Saubergue who had also given the window below in the south aisle.
Clerestory 4: Blank
Clerestory 5: Two lights and tracery, the subjects are St Silas, a disciple and companion of St Paul, and St Apollo, an Egyptian hermit of the 4th century who became an abbot. They were designed by George Parlby in 1887 and cost £40.00.
Clerestory 6: Blank
Clerestory 7, 8 and 9: Six lights and tracery, showing the following figures: St Tryphenna, a convert of St Paul and mentioned by him with St Tryphosa, in his letter to the Romans; Nicodemus, a first century Christian who with St Joseph of Arimathea laid Christ in his tomb; St Joanna, who is mentioned by St Luke as one of the holy women who ministered to our Lord; and St Mary Salome, who was one of the three Maries who witnessed Christ’s Death on the cross, His Burial and Resurrection. They were designed by George Parlby in 1889 and cost £110.00. They were given by W. J. Down who also gave the aisle window below.
Clerestory 10, 11, and 12: Six lights and tracery, showing the following figures: St Martha and St Mary, the sisters of Lazarus, St Luke and St Mark, the Evangelists, and St Anna and St Simeon, who were both in the Temple at the Presentation. These windows were made in 1894 and cost £120.00.
North Clerestory Windows (Organ side)
Clerestory 1 and 2: Two light windows and tracery, the subjects are Melchizedec, the king and priest of Jerusalem who blessed Abraham, and Enoch, the father of Methusalah, and Aaron, the brother of Moses, and Job, the upright man who was greatly tried.
Clerestory 3: Two light window and tracery, the subjects are Deborah, whose song in Judges chapter 5 is now thought to be one of the most ancient parts of the Bible, and Caleb, who was a companion of Joshua. These were made in 1894, part of the gift made by Arthur Croft Powell in memory of his parents.
The remainder of the north clerestory lights are blank.