SELBORNE VILLAGE TODAY
Like most of the village, Selborne church is a shrine to Gilbert White. His grandfather was vicar and the naturalist himself served the church as a curate. The churchyard begins in the heart of the village beneath the celebrated hanger (a wood on the side of a steep hill) and falls away eastwards to distant fields and woods. Birdsong constantly fills the Hampshire air. White’s tombstone lies just north of the chancel, marked as he wished with the simplest of inscriptions, ‘G.W. 26th June 1793’. Inside the church, there are two White memorial windows in the south aisle. That on the south wall is a big work of 1920, portraying the village and church, with St Francis preaching to every bird mentioned in the diaries – a great source of fun for children who can point them all out. The moving east window, erected in the 1930s, has clear glass and permits a view of nature beyond, but includes roundels of Rabbits, a turtle, a Hedgehog and a bat. It is among the loveliest of 20th Century windows. Despite these numerous mementoes, nothing will immortalise White more than his seminal work. It has been long held to be the fourth-most published book in the English language after the Bible, the works of Shakespeare and John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. True or not, it is some statistic.