Welcome to St Andrew's Church  

 

Burnham church may well be the oldest building still in full use in the Brents area. It is situated quite close to the shoreline of Burnham and from 19th century illustrations, may have been at the top of sand cliffs, that have been gradually eroded by the Atlantic winds and high tides. The area has always been subjected to flooding, being originally under seawater as far as Glastonbury, leaving only Brent Knoll and other high points above water level. The Knoll was once an ancient British Fortress and Encampment Lookout for the approaches to Glastonbury and the confluence of the rivers Parrett and Brue where King Alfred drove the Danes from the land in the 9th century. The church was dedicated to St Andrew in 1306 after being re-built on its original foundations that probably date from c.1100 and thought possibly to be part of an older building of 9th century origin, either on or very near the present site. Burials inside the church are few but at least three are known, the nave walls are home to attractive memorials and standards of some local organisations adorn the nave walls including that of HMS Burnham.

St Andrew's was the centre of communal activity and responsibility until the last century when this passed to local councils; its churchyard closed in 1886 and was replaced by the present one in Westfield Road; it has witnessed many events both nationally and locally including its provision from the parish rates for Guy Fawkes night celebrations, when quite large quantities of Beef, Cheese, Bread and Cider were consumed as well as the ringers being provided with tobacco and pipes in payment for their exhaustive rope pulling. At one time it was reported in the press that the nave ceiling was decorated with an assortment of shields and arms but to date this has not been able to be substantiated.

In common with most churches, most of the available space in the nave before the gallery was installed, contained box pews rented by the farmers, landowners and gentry where they could keep warm during church services, whilst the poor had to put up with either sitting or standing on the nave floor in mostly cold conditions, which up to the late 18th century was still earth probably covered only with a bed of reed or straw.

The poor house existed just inside the main churchyard entrance and to its right from Victoria Street , the Overseers of which were responsible to the Parish Council for its upkeep. There may also have been in earlier years a workhouse but as time passed, the one at Axbridge was used.

Included in St Andrew's parish was Edithmead, a small hamlet in Middle Burnham area. In the early 1920s a mission church was erected made of wood and tin clad, which replaced an old railway carriage that stood in the corner of the garden of Henry Wyatt's property. The materials for this construction came from East Brent and was carried in from carts where in had been used as an adult school. A small belfry was added and the building duly consecrated for use as a church where lay readers cycled from Burnham to take the services.

{The above detail comes from "A Somerset Childhood" by Phyllis Wyatt to whom I am indebted for this bit of fascinating history}

 

There are many facets of St Andrews of which the following are but just a few.

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This Gallery was last updated on Sunday November 27, 2005