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Sunday, 27 March 2016

Burwell St Mary's, Cambridgeshire

This is our "local" church. It is a fine one, liked by Pevsner.
Approach from the Guildhall

North side of church
Church from the north
Although there was a much earlier church on this site dating from Norman times (still part visible in the lower tower), most of the church today dates from the 1400s. The architect (Reginald Ely) was the same one who worked on Kings College Chapel in Cambridge. Tradition says he practiced on Kings College Chapel. The current building is a large, light and airy church in the perpendicular style. There was an Anglo-Saxon anchorage on the site.
Church clock (north face)
Guildhall
There is supposed to be a tunnel from the church to the house across the road which was used as a staging post for the Knights Templar. This is blocked off.

The building is made of clunch and is very light giving a feeling of great space.

Nave
There is a wooden roof with carvings of animals, some which the carvers would never have seen!
Animals in roof carvings
On the north wall is a painting of St Christopher, although before the reformation the church would have been highly decorated.

Until the 1500s the church was under the patronage of Ramsey Manor. There is a brass plaque in the chancel to commemorate this.

There are several monuments and wall decorations to the Cotton family who were benefactors centuries back.

There was restoration work carried out in the mid-1800s.

There are some fine stained glass windows with the latest 1992 in memory of the Mitchum family.

The font has been moved and a new kitchen, meeting room and toilets built. The "feel" of this place has been maintained.
Font with Cotton memorial in background
There is a nice toy corner in the south aisle.
Toy Corner
There is a large churchyard, which was extended in the 1850s. The Guildhall to the west of the church is the church hall and is used as a Montessori School.
Guildhall
There are two large horse chestnut trees in the churchyard which were planted to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. I'm not sure when they were planted. Generations of children have played with the conkers from them.
Horse chestnuts
The churchyard also is home to the "flaming heart" grave under which are buried 78 people who were tragically burnt in a barn fire. The barn was showing a puppet show at the time in the 1700s.

The tower holds a fine set of 8 bells. For a video of these bells ringing and the church see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qiz-ZBCm4LM .

Just across the main road was St Andrew's church although this is long gone.

Today, St Mary's is a busy, active church.

See http://www.stmarysburwell.org.uk/ .

Burwell is a busy village with over 6000 people. It has a fine museum and restored windmill. Our bungalow overlooks these. The view below was from our front garden.
Windmill and museum


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