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St Mary's, Burnham Westgate, Burnham Market

St Mary The Virgin, Burnham Westgate, is Burnham Market's other church and was clearly favoured by the local gentry and the well-to-do. Compared to Burnham Sutton Cum Ulph, at the east end of the village, Westgate is much larger, more richly ornamented and went through many more phases of development. It also has some handsome glass. to see the full set.


The church interior was being prepared for a series of annual concerts and the musicians were already rehearsing so I was unable to follow my usual policy of taking interior general views as well as photographing details.


Much of the present structure dates from the 1300s. The prominant tower, for example, was built around 1310 but while the guide says it was later 'defaced' by a buttress "horrific red brickwork" this same buttress did at least allow the handsome tower to remain standing. Nearby WIghton's church tower collapsed as recently as 1965. Such are the perils of working with flint rubble as a building material. I found the mellow red of the buttress pleasing even in the strong sunlight and the red did echo the tiles on the adjacent porch roof.


The south porch is Perpendicular (15th century) was originally two-storey, the upper storey of these porches often being used as a priest's lodging, a school room or a chantry chapel.


Internally there are north and south aisles while the nave is lit by clerestory windows of Decorated (14th century) date. The chancel arch, tower arch and both arcades are also 14th century. The striking east window is by A.F. Erridge and celebrated the coronation of 1953. A nearby window is a memorial to Sir William Boulton who had sponsored Lord Nelson's early naval career.


The church guide mentions little of the church's history but does note that there were four inductions of new clergy during the Black Death period of 1348-1349. The plague had a long reach and spread across even isolated rural areas very quickly. The mortality rate has been estimated at 50%.

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Taken on August 11, 2007