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Tours > Sussex Churches > Burpham

St. Mary - Burpham
TQ 039090; Two Miles Northeast of Arundel
Burpham is built on the site of a Saxon fortified 'Burgh' which overlooks the valley of the River Arun. The church is built of local flint rubble and the lower courses of its roof are of Horsham Slab. The south side of the tower displays some prominent 'putlog' holes. These were the holes left when the original wooden scaffolding poles that had been built into the wall were removed. They were often left open to allow repairs to be carried out at a later date.

The building is of Saxon origin, although its best known feature is the wonderful Norman arch that leads into the south transept. It has a deeply carved chevron design and dates from the twelfth century. The transept itself was rebuilt in the nineteenth century. The chancel has a vaulted ceiling and dates from the thirteenth century and leans slightly to the south. This feature, often known as a 'weeping chancel' and supposed to represent Christ's head on the Cross, is actually a common example of medieval building error.

Churches were always aligned to the East and depending on the time of the year when each part of the building was started, the position of the sun as it rose determined the angle of construction, sometimes leaving separate parts of the building out of alignment.

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