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St. Mary's, Buriton


We are here to worship God, welcome all, and grow together in faith and love.



The church description

St. Mary's has a long history.  There has been a church on this site since at least 1086 when the previous church was listed in the Doomsday Book.  The building you are in today had its origins in the late 12th century.  Buriton was the mother church for the district until 1886 when Petersfield with Sheet became a separate parish.


The nave is traditional Norman style of four bays with typically rounded pillars and moulded capitals.  The roof is of trussed rafter and crossbeams supported between each arch by a stone corbel.  The north aisle was rebuilt in 1764 and the windows were renewed in 1877.  The west end window is a memorial to John Goodyer (1592 – 1664), a famous botanist, who is buried in the churchyard.


The south aisle was rebuilt in about 1300 and widened to provide room for the Lady Chapel.  At the east end there is a 17th century Communion table with baluster legs.  On the south side is a fine arched piscine for the washing of Communion vessels.  The south doorway dates from about 1300.


The font is of Purbeck marble and is late 12th century.  Originally it at the west end of the south aisle but moved to its current location in 1957 when the choir vestry was made.  The wooden cover was a gift from Holy Trinity Church, Aldershot, in 1928.  On either side of the font are the lead insertions, which were designed to hold staples.  An order of 1234 directed that fonts be covered and locked to prevent water being taken away for sacrilegious purposes.


The chancel is entered through a fine oak rood screen erected during the extensive restoration of 1878.  The screen is an exact copy of the former 16th century screen.  This part of the church was rebuilt and enlarged at the end of the 13th century at a time when the continental wool trade brought prosperity to this sheep farming district.  The east window is dated from 1270 but it is much restored.  It contains good modern glass from the Whitefriars Glass Factory in memory of John Bonham-Carter,who died in

1884.  To the south of the alter is a beautiful piscine and a rare threefold sedilia with the arches twice stepped downwards.  Within the canopies are traces of 13th century paintings. The tower replaced the steeple, which was destroyed by fire in 1712.  The replacement tower is 48ft high and is built of ironstone with stone dressings.  The present clock in the west face was added in 1906.  There were five bells when the tower was rebuilt but a sixth, a treble, was added in 1935.  The tenor bell weighs 8cwt, 3qrt, 12lb.  There are two funeral hatchments on the wall on either side of the apex of the tower arch.  These were hung over the front door of the deceased during the period of mourning and then laid up in the church.  In the entranceway above the notice board there are two restored metal plaques of the Lord's Prayer and the Creed.


High on the north wall of the chancel is an interesting slate memorial with the following epitaph …

“Near the outside of this wall lyeth the body of William Lowth, late Rector of this Church, who died May ye 17th 1732.  And being dead desires to speak to his beloved parishioners, and sweetly to exhort them constantly to attend public worship of God, frequently to receive Holy Communion and diligently to observe the good instruction given in this place, to breed up their children in the fear of God and to follow peace with all men and holiness, without which no man shall see God.  God give us all a happy meeting at the resurrection of the just.”


We hope that you have found this description interesting and enjoyable.  Please take time to enjoy the peace of our church building by visiting it, perhaps to pray for someone, or just to be quiet for a moment to listen to God for yourself.


Psalm 117.

Praise the Lord, all you nations;  extol Him all you people.

For great is his love towards us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures for ever.  Praise the Lord.



post script:  The Millennium Window by Mick Ayling


In celebration of the millennium, a new window was installed near the font in September 2001. The scene shows Mary indicating the way to God, the Father, with one arm upraised; the other arm points to Jesus, the Son. The Holy Ghost is symbolised by a breeze blowing the clothing of Mary and Jesus, thus evoking the Trinity, and carried on the breeze are the leaves of healing.


The background shows the wooded hills and the downs above Buriton and a stream flows from the hills to the foreground. As with the Buriton stream and pond, which has for centuries provided water for the life of the village, so Jesus - The Water of Life - is shown standing in the stream and holding out a pitcher. The theme of flowing water is synonymous with baptism and with the optimism felt within the village for the future.


p.s.  There is a comprehensive description and history of the church on the Petersfield Deanery web site.