The village church, St Martin of Tours, has a long history. Much has been written about the Church, which sits at the core of the village’s history, and we will be adding to these web pages. The fullest published account appears in Geoffrey Copus’ book Chelsfield Chronicles: Annals of a Kentish parish. There is evidence for a church at Chelsfield in Saxon times, although the Church we see now dates from Norman times, when it would have consisted simply of the nave and Chancel. The Church is named for St Martin, Bishop of Tours. A fourth century Roman and Christian, he became a soldier but eventually decided he could not fight and became an early conscientious objector. After suffering imprisonment for his refusal to fight, he was released from military service, and followed his vocation. The most famous legend attaching to St Martin is how, when still a soldier, he cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar. The Church logo, designed by a former rector, Canon Leslie Virgo, contains many symbolic references. The M stands for Martin, and the shape also represents the cloak that St Martin cut in half to share with the beggar (and, it has been suggested, the severing of the village from the Church by the bypass.) The cross of Christ is also represented. Bell ringing has been a long tradition at St Martin’s and the village is fortunate to have a ring of bells. The Church originally had four bells, which were recast in 1672 by John Hodson, to create a peal of five, for which the Five Bells in the village is named. In 1936 a sixth bell was added, but the pub was not renamed! In 2009 the treble was replaced and two further bells were added, making a peal of eight. In 1908 the Church spire was struck by lighting, click here for an account of this event. The role of Churchwarden is an important one, and a very ancient one. Here’s Philip Lane talking to Pam about his role as a warden and the responsibilities and challenges it brings. Click to play. (You can hear Philip talking about his responsibilities for the Churchyard and the preparation of the Tryhorn Field as a new burial ground on our Living Memories pages.)
Chelsfield A Community Archive
St Martin of Tours
St Martin’s and Court Lodge in the snow.
Information about St Martin’s services and activities can be found on the church website There is also information about the bells, historic figures with connections to the Church, and about tracing ancestors through burial records.
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