"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Saturday, 10 October 2020

Another Trip to Herefordshire - Part 4: St Mary's Burford, Shropshire


After leaving Tenbury Wells I persuaded B to drive a further few miles into Shropshire to have a quick look at St Mary's, Burford.

When I was little we used to visit this church every Easter as my paternal grandmother had been born in Burford and she used to leave flowers on family graves in the churchyard.  I have been once before to look for the graves many years ago but without success.  I didn't find any this time either partly because many of the older gravestones are weathered and you can't read the inscriptions, time was limited as B was sitting in the car! and also I got totally distracted by some rather wonderful grotesques/corbels round the church.

On the short journey we managed to miss the turn but did spot the Tenbury Wells Millennium Orchard which I believe you can walk round so that is something to do in the future.  Near the church are Burford House Gardens and Garden Centre - something else that will be worth visiting when life hopefully at some stage becomes "normal".

St Mary's is a large church which is Grade 1 Listed.  The chancel is Norman in origin and the church was extended in the 14th century.  The church was restored 1889/90 by Sir Aston Webb and the work was paid for by the Hon. Georgina Rushout of Burford House. Webb's contributions, according to Pevsner, are Decorated and Perpendicular in a free Arts and Craft style using red Bromsgrove Sandstone.

The West Tower is 15th century but I think it was partly rebuilt by Webb.

This is the part of the churchyard to the rear of the church that I remember visiting.  

South Porch

At this stage I spotted the line of corbels, grotesques and gargoyles - such a wonderful selection.  I haven't been able to date them for certain but I think they may only date back to the Webb restoration?

I am not sure if the above photo shows a Green Man but I certainly found four other examples which made my day if not my month! 

There was also a wonderful array of medieval beasts and mythical creatures - sorry for all the photos but I just adore these carvings. 😁

There were many more including some with letters of the alphabet and heraldry devices but at that stage I decided I had left B bored in the car for too long so I gave up taking photos.

Elaborate rainwater heads

The interesting churchyard cross has four late medieval octagonal steps with a restored shaft and head presumably by Webb. Sorry photos not brilliant as the sun was in the wrong place!

Late 12th century door (Priest's door?) on the south side of the church.

The door to the church was propped open (there was a lady cleaning in the chancel) so I popped in briefly to see if I could find a more recent guidebook than my 35 year old one! but I couldn't see any. I did buy some cooking apples and jars of marmalade and chutney.  The area for prayer was confined to the area round the font (no picture as it was surrounded by tables selling produce!) and there was a barrier stopping any further exploration of the church which was a shame as there are some interesting monuments in the church.

I will return though probably next year either on my own or if B comes he could visit the garden centre if this pandemic ever disappears. Like me, he is not keen on going inside shops etc.

I did check a website called FindMyGrave but couldn't find any records with my grandmother's family on the site although I am not sure if they list all graves and as mentioned you couldn't read many of the older gravestones. I may contact the church in the hope they have a list of burials.   

We came home the next day as it was yet again pouring with rain! 

All photos taken by me with the Panasonic Lumix FZ330 bridge camera


Bovey Belle said...

What a shame you couldn't find your family graves. Mine in Hennock are long gone as they would have only had a simple wooden cross as couldn't afford a headstone.

What an interesting church and I loved the grotesques and the beakhead, and of course, the Green Men!

Ragged Robin said...

Bovey Belle - Thanks so much. To be honest once I got back home I checked the dates of death of my grandmother's parents (assume it was those graves we visited) and it was 1930 and 1936 so the graves I was looking at were possibly too old? I will go back if necessary on my own so I can spend more time there but it will probably be next year now.
I was thrilled to find the grotesques etc - completely unexpected! Just goes to show that you don't always have to go inside the church as there can be so much of interest outside :)

Rustic Pumpkin said...

I am going through similar trying to locate the grave of my only Aunt, who died aged 4 months. Apparently, she was laid to her rest with another family member but it was common not to always add a baby to the marker stone. Many of the stones are also moved to the walls of the cemetery, which does not help. I can quite see how you got distracted though.

Ragged Robin said...

Rustic Pumpkin - Thank you. I hope you can your locate your aunt's grave. I am even wondering if I have the right church! But I first visited Burford when in my early 20's when childhood visits were fresh in my mind and that was the church I remembered then. I haven't yet subscribed to any ancestry websites but one day I will although not sure if they could help in this instance.

Pam said...

Wow there's a lot going on at the church, so many features! I've been making note of graveyards of relatives as i've been working on Ancestry, which links to findagrave, i've already visited my great grandparents, which my Mum didn't know were there and i'm hoping to take a day visiting graveyards to try and find other relatives!

CherryPie said...

Lovely captures of the stonework.

I have had a similar adventure trying to find gravestones of my ancestors.

Ragged Robin said...

Pam - Thank you - one day I will join Ancestry. FindMyGrave seems free although you may have to pay for more information? Not sure but the site listed only really old graves when I was checking for Burford.

CherryPie - Thank you. It must be good to actually find a gravestone that you are looking for!

Amanda Peters said...

Stunning photos, lovely to see the Green men. Everything looks so good in the sunshine.
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

Amanda Peters - Thank you. It is amazing what a difference a sunny day makes :)

Pam said...

Findagrave is free so you can look for specific churchyards or names, which can be frustrating if you don't know where someone might be buried, there's so many names on there! Ancestry does all the work for you and gives you a direct link, which is helpful! I used Findagrave before I had Ancestry but of course as well I now have more names to look for after working through the family tree.

Ragged Robin said...

Pam - Thanks for the info re: Ancestry. I knew about that church being the place because of childhood visits but that is the only one I know. So would have a problem using FindaGrave for grandfather's family names. I tend to know in some cases area or village/town but there again they could be buried in a Methodist graveyard and not CofE. To be honest haven't really looked into any more much during the summer. Family tree info has more on places of birth than death.

The Quacks of Life said...

open you can get in one day. looks interesting !

Ragged Robin said...

The Quacks of Life - Thanks Pete. It does have at least one interesting monument. I will return, all being well, if this situation ever ends.