our church building
The Church of St. John the Baptist, probably dedicated to St. John because of its proximity to the river Stour, has stood in its imposing location for 800 years. It was been much altered, but retains many of its mediaeval features, and is in good structural condition.
We are pleased to say that the Church is a welcoming building, as are the people - and we now have a fully accessible toilet and a servery in the Church (see the page about our Project), so we are able to offer hospitality to visitors.
The following is taken from the booklet: 'Mount Bures Church and Village' which is available in Church. However, there is much more to know, and we invite you to come and see for yourself!
According to Newcourt's Repertorium (1710) the Diocese of London included the parish of Mount Bures, which at that time lay in the Archdeaconry of Colchester, and in the Deanery and Hundred of Lexden. Other changes followed but the church is now within the Diocese of Chelmsford, in the Deanery of Colchester.
For many centuries the patronage of the living of Mount Bures belonged to the lords of the manor, but that custom has now been altered.
Early descriptions of the architecture and fabric are few, and the following in Morant's History of Essex 1768 is quaint:-
"This church (nave) is one pace with the chancel both tyled. In the middle between the chancel and the church stands a square tower of stone with a Spire shingled containing four bells."
Within two years the Rector recorded a major alteration:-
"l770. By virtue of a faculty this summer a cracked bell which had been useless above twenty years with another bell was sold, the spire taken down, the tower heightened, the two remaining bells new hung and every other necessary repairs to the church and tower done. The faculty cost eight guineas. Over and above the amount of the bells the expenses cost the parish a rate of about 2d in the Pound."
Fortunately there is a photograph of the result of these alterations which included an embattled parapet around the brickwork of the encased belfry. Happy was the Victorian reversal of the project some hundred years later, although they in their turn inevitably destroyed vital material of historic interest. The old tower was totally demolished in 1875 when the present transepts and vestry were added. (Previously only ninety seatings were possible). The tower is now 15 feet by 15 feet. 9 inches.
The following is based on the report of the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (1922).
THE WALLS of the church are of coursed flint-rubble with Roman brick quoins, the dressings are of limestone and clunch; the roofs are tiled.
THE CHANCEL has E. quoins of Roman brick and a 14th century window of three cinquefoiled lights with modern tracery in a triangular head. In the N. wall is a modern doorway with a two-centred head. In the S. wall are two windows, the eastern is modern except for the splays and rear-arch, which are of the 14th century, the 14th century western window is partly restored and of three trefoiled ogee lights in a square head.
THE NAVE has three round-headed 12th century windows (one, on the South wall, now blocked). In the N. wall is a modern window, and an early 12th century north doorway, also blocked, which has plain jambs of Roman brick and a round head.
In the S. wall is a 15th century window much restored, of two cinquefoiled lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head with a moulded label and jambs, further W. is the late 14th century S. doorway with moulded lambs, two-centred arch and a moulded label with head stops.
In the W. wall is a late 14th century window of three trefoiled lights with net tracery in a two-centred head.
THE SOUTH PORCH is of mixed brick and flint-rubble and has a late 15th century outer archway with moulded and shafted jambs and two-centred arch in a square head with a moulded label, head stops and spandrels carved with vine foliage and shields, above it is a small pointed light. The sidewalls have each a partly restored late 15th century window of three cinquefoiled lights in a square head. The roof of the porch is of the 15th century and has moulded wall-plates and tie-beams with king-posts.
THE BELLS. Of the two remaining bells (15th century) the larger by Robert Burford, weighing about 13 cwt., bears the inscription "Sit nomen Domini benedictum." The other by Henry Jones has "Sancte Nicoli ora pro nobis." In 1552 additional to the four original bells were two handbells, and a little one in the Chancel.
THE NORTH AND SOUTH DOORS are both 15th century; as is the NICHE on the north side of the E. window, and also the STOUP in the S. Porch which has a cinquefoiled head, no bowl.
THE FONT is a plain octagonal bowl, with moulded under-edge and plain stem, probably 15th century.
THE COMMUNION PLATE. The present Cup and Paten were made in Dunkeld in 1998 to replace an earlier cup and paten which had been stolen. The stolen cup had the maker's mark RS, was dated 1641 and inscribed "Buers at the Mount Essex". There is also another chalice of recent date. Two other chalices (1552) and a pewter flagon and plate are recorded, but these disappeared several centuries ago.
THE COMMUNION TABLE which stands in the S. Transept, and the chest with three locks in the vestry are both 17th century.