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Burgh by Sands Church of St Michael

In the civil parish of Burgh By Sands.
In the historic county of Cumberland.
Modern Authority of Cumbria.
1974 county of Cumbria.
Medieval County of Cumberland.

OS Map Grid Reference: NY32865910
Latitude 54.92211° Longitude -3.04907°

Burgh by Sands Church of St Michael has been described as a certain Fortified Ecclesiastical site, and also as a certain Pele Tower.

There are major building remains.

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


Church, probably of late 12th century date. The fortified west tower was added circa 1350, while the east tower, which was probably built as a vicar's pele, dates from the 15th century. The church was altered in 1713 and restored in 1881. Built of sandstone with a slate roof. The plan comprises a three-storey west tower, nave with north aisle, chancel and single-bay vestry under a common roof. The vestry was formerly the vicar's tower, reduced in height and gabled over, probably in 1713. This is one of a small number of fortified churches in the border area, unique in having two fortified towers. (PastScape)

Church. Probably late C12, bell tower 1360, C15 east tower, alterations of 1713 and restoration 1881. Squared and coursed red and calciferous sandstone (from the nearby Roman Wall and Roman Fort, on which site the church stands); graduated greenslate roof, C20 brick chimney stack on vestry. 3-storey west tower; 3-bay nave with north aisle, 2-bay chancel and single-bay vestry (former east tower) under common roof. West tower has extremely thick walls on chamfered plinth with clasping buttresses; vaulted lower chamber has newel staircase in south-west angle, lit by arrow slits; west wall has internal steps in thickness of wall, to arrow slit; loop hole near former north entrance in aisle. South-east buttress has inscription I.S. 1560(?). First floor trefoil-head lancets in each wall, that in east wall looks into nave; round-arched bell openings above, square-headed in east wall. Battlemented parapet with projecting lead water spouts. O.S. bench mark on north-west buttress. East entrance from nave has iron yet and drawbar tunnel. Medieval bells. Repositioned Norman north entrance to aisle, has beakhead decoration; Victorian restoration of outer order. Inscriptions on jambs: I.B. 1769, I.B. 1842. When the bell tower was built, it appears this entrance was blocked and a shouldered-arched entrance opened in the west wall of aisle, itself now blocked. Pointed lancet windows of 1881. South wall of nave has 3 blocked square-headed windows, replaced with C19 2-light windows with plate tracery; large C18 aedicule monument between windows has very weathered inscription. Chancel has pointed lancets of 1881 and probable lepers' window, although this appears to be in a blocked priest's entrance. Vestry was formerly the vicar's tower, reduced in height and gabled over, probably in 1713; remains of a blocked C15 window; round-headed C18 windows, upper floor C19 sash window with glazing bars in east end. Interior: 3-bay north aisle arcade of pointed arches on octagonal columns with stiff-leaf capitals (columns collapsed when tower was built in 1360 and had to be rebuilt). Open timber roof to nave of 1881. C19 stained glass. C19 chancel arch, aumbry recess; east sanctuary wall has entrance to vestry right and sculptured corbel stone from Roman Fort to left. Early C20 furnishings and fittings. C18 font on C19 shaft. One of a small number of fortified churches in the border area, unique in having 2 fortified towers. (Listed Building Report)

The east tower is usually and probably best considered as a vicar's pele tower, attached to the church. The walls of the west belfry tower and very thick but it is the narrow entrance from the nave, equipped with a yett and door with deep drawbar, that makes this a defensive feature.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:52

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