Mount Bures Community Web Site

St John the Baptist Church.

The church of ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST is built of rubble with Roman tile and ash dressings and has a chancel with north vestry, a central tower with shingled spire and short transepts, and a nave with a south porch.
The "Victoria History of the Counties of England" document a possible date when it was founded of 1059

The nave is probably late 11th-century and has an original north doorway and three windows, one blocked. The central tower was of similar date and the chancel was rebuilt in the 14th century. The south doorway and west window of the nave are also 14th-century, the porch and south window in the nave are 15th-century.
The Church is conventionally described as Norman. The church is of brick and stone with a tiled roof with Norman features

Dating the Church

A 1705/6 manuscript contains the answer to this question: "No augmentation since its foundation which was in the year 1059 as appeareth on the porch"
This was confirmed by "Morant" who stated:"at the top of the porch on the outside there was formerly a stone about eight inches square with the date MLIX. But now the stone is missing"
Morant would have been talking to Philip Gurdon, the Rector who had not seen the stone himself as he stated in a letter dated 1763.
Such a stone must once have been placed on the original nave wall, probably above the door at the rear of the porch.
Whoever removed or covered the stone between 1706-34 done so through ignorance or indifference.
(Read more in "Mount Bures its lands and its People" by Ida Mcmaster)

In 1633 the church and tower windows required re-glazing.

Circa 1600, Richard Symonds ( 1617 -1692) Ecclesiological Notes describe:
"In this churchyard stands a little Chapel in the Nor`side of the Church built of stone. Playnely in former times a Chantry House, but now turned into two tenements in the incumbants disposinge...Master Simpson"
The Rectory records indicate John Simpson was Rector 1648 -1675. The question being why was there a Chapel in the Church grounds ?

In 1707 there were cracks in the wall on both sides of the north door and in the west wall which required urgent attention.

In 1770 the spire was taken down and the tower heightened. The church was restored in 1875 and again in 1908 and 1936.
During the 1875 restoration, Thomas Harris took down the dilapidated central tower and replaced the spurious 1770 parapet tower with the "Sussex" type beech construction which we can still see today.
When the tower was taken down, wall paintings were discovered at the east end of the nave on the south wall, probably representing St Mary the Virgin .

In 1552 and 1768 there were four bells in the tower, but two were sold in c1770. The two bells remaining, date back to 1460 and 1407.

Over the porch, their is a tablet dated 1564 with a benefactors name of "Love"
Nothing odd in that, except "Love" was a beggar and a very successful one. When he died he left a sum of money to the 12 parishes that had supported him throughout his life on the road.

The wooden church chest is of the 16th century. The church plate included a silver cup and paten of 1641, were stolen circa 1993.

On a census Sunday in 1851 (see also Hope Baptist) there were attendance's of 50 in the morning and 94 in the afternoon out of a population of 279.

In 1959 a stone statue of St. John the Baptist by B. Dobson was placed in a niche over the high altar on the north side.

The two bells remaining in 1996 were both of the 15th century, one by Robert Burford, and one about 60 years later by Henry Jordan.

1875 picture

Spire prior to restoration in 1875.

The original tower, being so close to the `motte` next door could well have been a replacement for the timber tower which once stood on the summit.An iron age burial ground was also found near the railway. There is still roman brick in the quoins (corners) of the church chancel and walls.
The Nave has some features dating back to the 12th century. The porches, doors and font have their origins in the 15th cent.
The Church still maintain records dating back to 1540 for Baptisms, 1546 for Burials and 1558 for Marriages.

St Johns 1920

Bible laying on the Lectern, dated 1809


This is a fascinating Church with a wealth of history and well worth a visit, The highlight of the Church`s year is the wonderful Festival of Flowers held during the June.

Church and Mound
Painting by Suffolk artist,
Mike Petterson

Historical information for all of these pages has been obtained from these sources:-

"Mount Bures, its Lands and People" by Ida McMaster & Kathleen Evans.
"The Victoria History of the Counties (Essex) of England, Vol X" by the University of London.

"The Heart of our History" by Ashley Cooper
updated 06/07/2017, 1920 images sourced English Heritage
updated 30/07/19: Bible