Burnham Sutton-cum Ulph, All Saints Church
Burnham Sutton-cum Ulph, All Saints Church

The pretty Norfolk town of Burnham Market is a combination of three ancient parishes; Westgate, Sutton, and Ulph. The 12th-century church of All Saints was built to serve the parish of Burnham Ulph, which is now on the eastern edge of Burnham Market.

In the late 18th century the rector of Ulph was Edmund Nelson, father of Admiral Horatio Nelson. Revd. Nelson also held the living of Burham Sutton, 400 yards away. He complained to church authorities that the parishes were not wealthy enough to sustain two churches, and as a result, both buildings were falling into decay. He applied for permission to pull down St Ethelbert's Church in Burnham Sutton, sell the stone, and use the proceeds to repair All Saints.

The restored All Saints then became the parish church for both Burnham Sutton and Burnham Ulph, and the combined parish was given the name Burnham Sutton-cum-Ulph. All Saints was probably the first church to be built in the Burnham area and was probably begun in the late Saxon period. The oldest parts of the present building date to around 1190.

The south porch is 15th century, in Perpendicular style. Over the porch entrance is a statue niche, now empty. In the south nave wall are a pair of very tall lancet windows with Y-tracery, inserted around 1300. Between these windows is a Norman lancet that has been altered with a 14h century cusped top. On the lower part of this window head is a medieval scratch dial. Nearby is a tablet to Thomas Raven who died in 1731.

The Norman chancel arch capitals
The Norman chancel arch capitals

Set into the south chancel wall is a very small priest's door. It seems absurdly low, but that is because the ground level of the churchyard has risen so much in the 800 years since the door was installed.

There is another, more usable, priest's door in the north wall. Curiously, this has a hoodmould on the inner face, where it would be useless to protect the building from rain. It seems likely that this doorway was brought here from the demolished church of Burnham Sutton.

One amusing anecdote tells us that Revd. Nelson's housekeeper used to rattle the outside of the door when she thought the rector had been preaching so long that the meal she had cooked for him would spoil.

Also on the north chancel wall is an unusual window made from part of a medieval coffin lid.

The chancel arch has traditional Norman carvings. The south capital has carvings in a different style, suggesting that it was part of St Ethelred's church at Sutton. In the chancel is a piscina under a finely carved ogee arch.

The roof was installed in 1908 but the timbers are supported on medieval stone corbels. Both the pews and font are Victorian, but the pulpit is 18th century.

In the churchyard is a poignant memorial to Private BJ Hendry, who died in action of 25 October 1918, less than three weeks before the end of World War One.

All Saints church was open when we visited, even though it was late in the evening. The church is a very easy stroll east from the green in the centre of Burnham Market.

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About Burnham Sutton-cum-Ulph, All Saints
Address: North Street, Burnham Sutton-cum-Ulph, Norfolk, England, PE31 8UR
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: At the junction of North Street, Ulph Place, and the B1155 at the eastern edge of Burnham Market
Website: Burnham Sutton-cum-Ulph, All Saints
Location map
OS: TF835422
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express


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