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St Martin of Tours Church was first built between 921 and 927 AD and was used as a monk house. Since then it has had three major restorations. It was partially rebuilt in 1229/30, and then again after being greatly damaged by fire in 1240. The last major changes came in 1860 when the Rector at that time, Rev H Polhill, undertook a complete restoration because of the church’s poor state of repair. These renovations took place over a period of 22 years and included rebuilding one corner of the Chancel, removing a gallery, replacing the old pews, adding the vestry on the north side and lowering the floor by two feet. When the floor was lowered the old stone altar was found in the Chancel and was returned to its rightful place, where it is still in use today.The font is of the late Norman period. There is an arched recess across the north east corner of the Chancel which is said to have contained an altar to St Anne who was the patroness of miners, reflecting the connection of this part of the world to ironstone mining at one time
The wooden belfry on the tower at the west end is unusual in this part of the country. It houses a peal of three bells, one of which dates from 1612. In the gable of the south porch is the Rivers family coat of arms, dating from their baronetcy in 1621, and above it is a pillar sundial which was added in 1643. This sundial was given to the parish of Ashurst in 1634 by Elias Allen, the most famous mathematical instrument maker of his day and believed to be the son of Robert Allen, the Rector from 1572-1587.
Click here to link to the KENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY visual record archive for St Martin's Ashurst