Burstow Interior

The Burstow KJB in the nave of St Bartholomew's. Used with permission

  • Although seen here positioned on a lectern, it is unlikely, given its size, that the Burstow KJB was used for preaching
Burstow Tower

The 15th/16th century tower of St Bartholomew's. Used with permission

  • This unusual wooden structure abuts the western wall of the stone church
  • The oldest bell, which contains an inscription which refers to St Thomas (presumably Thomas Becket), dates to c. 1450

St Bartholomew's, Burstow

The parish church of Burstow, originally dedicated to St Michael the Archangel but now to St Bartholomew, has existed since at least the 12th century. It first appears in the records in 1121 when the Archbishop of Canterbury gifted it to Cluniac monks based at nearby Lewes. At some point during the 13th century the church came back under archiepiscopal authority. At the Reformation it was transferred to direct royal control. Of its incumbents the earliest known is Thomas de Wamberge, appointed by the archbishop in 1294. The most notable rector was John Flamsteed, created the first Astronomer Royal by King Charles II. The parish is presently part of the Diocese of Southwark, although appointment of its rector remains, as it has done since 1536, in the hands of the Lord Chancellor.

The present church buildings contain elements dating to the 12th century, although it has been suggested that certain aspects are reminiscent of pre-Conquest architecture. Much of the fabric was rebuilt and the church considerably enlarged in the 15th century. Amidst the more striking features is the 15th century or early 16th century wooden bell tower that abuts the west end. Amongst its bells, the oldest (c. 1450) bears the inscription ‘Sancte Thoma Ora Pro Nobis’ (St Thomas pray for us), a phrasing which reinforces the connection with the See of Canterbury and may indicate that the church once lay on a pilgrimage route from London to the shrine of St Thomas Becket. The church’s present appearance dates to a major restoration project undertaken in 1879-84 by Edmund Benjamin Ferrey, a student of Augustus Charles Pugin.

Pre-20th century Registers and Records have been deposited at the Surrey History Centre, with other 17th and 18th century records stored at Lambeth Palace Library. There are two 14th century documents referring to the parish in Canterbury Cathedral Archives. The KJB is the only pre-20th century volume held by the church, and there is no documentation relating to its acquisition.

Burstow Exterior

The parish church of St Bartholomew's, Burstow, Surrey. Used with permission

Online Resources

'Parishes: Burstow', ed. by H. E. Malden, A History of the County of Surrey (London: Victoria County History, 1911), vol. 3, pp. 176-82.

Further Reading

East Grinstead Group of NADFAS, The NADFAS (National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts) Record of Church Furnishings: St Bartholomew, Burstow (unpublished report; 2006-08).

Peter Armstrong, 'St Bartholomew, Burstow: A Short History', 4 page pamphlet, undated [copy lodged with Project Director]

Donald A. Baker, The Church & Paris of Burstow, rev. edn (Horley: Luttman Printing Service, 1996) [copy lodged with Project Director].

Christopher Kiernan, ‘Church of St. Bartholomew’, (unpublished architectural Report, January 2009), 48 pages.