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

home I index I latest I glossary I introductions I e-mail I about this site

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

St Mary, Burnham Westgate
(Burnham Market)

Burnham Westgate: storms brewing

Read the captions by hovering over the images, and click on them to see them enlarged.
parapet: south side parapet: south-east corner parapet: west side subtle buttressing (not)

  St Mary, Burnham Westgate (Burnham Market)

This church has become the main parish church of the Burnhams. During the course of the centuries, the villages of Sutton, Ulph and Westgate grew together, and in the 19th century the amalgamation was given a railway station. As Burnham Market it appears on maps, and at either end of its green are the two former village churches of Ulph and Westgate. Sutton's church is now a ruin. Westgate is one of three of the Burnhams to have a Viking suffix to its name.

St Mary's position is an imposing one, and like all the Burnham churches it is open to the public daily, for which it is to be admired. Also admirable is the tower, which is rather more extraordinary than it first appears. Unfortunately for me, this was the one church out of the 35 I visited on this weekend that treated me to rain as I was trying to explore the outside. I quickly sought sanctuary inside, which is perhaps less exciting.

What had I been trying to see? St Mary's tower has a parapet quite unlike any other. A result of a bequest by William Lexham in 1500 (he is featured on the north side) it is a kind of potted version of the Bible, starting with the Creation and the Fall and working forward to the Nativity and the Crucifixion and beyond. There are elements to it that have never been satisfactorily explained, and I will certainly have to go back and have another look when it isn't raining (or, at least, when I have more time to wait inside until it stops). It was found to be falling down in the 18th century, and fortunately buttressed rather than demolished. The buttresses are not delicate, but are impressive, and I was glad that Frederick Preedy hadn't done away with them when he Victorianised this church in the 1870s. Preedy is not, to my mind, one of the best 19th century architects; the mark of his heavy hand is apparent on many churches here about, notably the vast chancel at Thornham and the rebuilding of Burnham Deepdale.

You step inside to a fairly typical urban 19th century interior. The walls are a stark white, which is seemly, but the furnishings look as if they are made of sticky toffee. The trefoiled and quatrefoiled clerestory is reminiscent of Ingham, across the county. Luckily, the windows are mostly clear glass, or this would be a dour place. As it is, the glass in the east window is gorgeous, an early 20th century madonna and child.

Simon Knott, May 2005

 

looking east sanctuary looking west
east window clerestory

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

Free Guestbook from Bravenet 

Amazon commission helps cover the running costs of this site.

home I index I latest I introductions I e-mail I about this site I glossary
links I small print I www.simonknott.co.uk I www.suffolkchurches.co.uk
ruined churches I desktop backgrounds I round tower churches

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