The Burnhams
Deepdale I Norton I Overy I Priory I St Henry I Sutton I Thorpe I Ulph I Westgate

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The Norfolk Churches Site: an occasional sideways glance at the churches of Norfolk

St Ethelbert, Burnham Sutton
(Burnham Market)

Burnham Sutton: a satisfying ruin

Read the captions by hovering over the images, and click on them to see them enlarged.
looking west from the altar (in the middle of the road) bottom of the south doorway threshold of the south door buttressing to the south nave wall

  St Ethelbert, Burnham Sutton (Burnham Market)

The modern town of Burnham Market is an amalgam of three historic parishes, Burnhams Sutton, Ulph and Westgate. St Ethelbert was the parish church of Sutton, and sat about 400 metres south of the green in the centre of Burnham Market, beside the road to Fakenham.

The Parishes of Sutton and Ulph were united under one Priest in the 15th century - probably, the two villages had already grown into each other by then. However, this state of affairs virtually guaranteed that resources would become rather stretched once the Reformation turned them into preaching houses.

In the middle of the 18th century, both churches had, in common with many in East Anglia, fallen into disrepair. Their Rector, the go-ahead young Edmund Nelson, who just happened to be the father of Horatio, oversaw the demolition of St Ethelbert and the use of its materials to repair All Saints, Burnham Ulph.

What survives are the walls of the aisle-less nave to a height of half a metre or so, and the tower walls to about a metre. Curiously, the tower was built within the body of the earlier nave, as at Thurton in east Norfolk. The chancel is now lost beneath the adjacent road. The tower remains were higher, but were thought to be dangerous in 1966 and reduced. For a long time after, the site was allowed to become overgrown, and mostly disappeared, but it was all cut back and dug out by the admirable Burnham Market Society in the early 1990s, and is now maintained beautifully.

It is a satisfying ruin. You can see where everything was, and you can even step over the threshold of the south doorway as your ancestors might have done.

On the ground to the south is the village hall, and we were lucky enough to find the weekly farmers market in progress. As you may know, Burnham Market is now one of the poshest towns in Christendom, a kind of Islington-sur-mer, but the market was extraordinarily good value. Presumably there's quite a mark-up when these same foods appear on the menus of bistros in Chelsea and Canary Wharf. I was also delighted to discover from one of the stall holders that locals still call this place St Albert's Corner.

Simon Knott, May 2005

 

The Burnhams
Deepdale I Norton I Overy I Priory I St Henry I Sutton I Thorpe I Ulph I Westgate

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The Norfolk Churches Site: an occasional sideways glance at the churches of Norfolk