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English Church Architecture -



BURGATE, St. Mary (TM 083 756)     (March 2007)

(Bedrock:  Neogene to Quaternary, Crag Group)


This is a remote little building deriving chiefly from Decorated times and consisting of a W. tower, a nave with a S. porch, and a chancel.  The tower (shown left, from the south) rises in two stages, supported by diagonal buttresses in the lower stage, to tall cinquefoil-cusped, Y-traceried bell-openings and battlements above, which were probably added afterwards.  The lower stage is lit near the top by an encircled quatrefoil in each wall, and lower down, by an ungainly two-light W. window similar to the W. window in the porch (sic) at neighbouring Mellis.  The N. wall of the nave is pierced, from west to east, by a two-light window with ogee lights and reticulated tracery (illustrated below left), a blocked doorway, a two-light window with two-centred lights and a sexfoil reticulation unit in the head instead of a quatrefoil (shown below centre), and a three-light Perpendicular window with supermullioned tracery, while three similar windows to this last, light the nave from the south (one of which is shown below right).  The N. wall of the chancel features only one renewed window with curvilinear tracery and the fenestration to the south and east is wholly and blatantly Victorian.  The porch can probably be regarded as Perpendicular:  its side windows are blocked and its outer doorway has a complex profile.


Inside the church the nave and chancel are structurally undivided except by the over-elaborate Victorian roof which has deep wall posts rising from stone corbels at this point.  Perhaps the tower arch has been partially remodelled for it bears wave mouldings as well as flat chamfers above two orders of semi-octagonal shafts. The two western bays of the nave are divided by a screen from the two eastern bays and then subdivided again in a very muddled arrangement to form an entrance space, an organ chamber, and a little west-facing chapel.  However, both the Decorated and Perpendicular nave windows have keeled rolls around their splays and the church contains one feature of real importance, namely a pair of brasses commemorating Sir William Burgate (d. 1409) and his wife, which were considered by Pevsner to be the best in the county.  The square pulpit is Jacobean but not special:  it displays a carved top rail above two tiers of standard round-arched blank arcading.