Serving the communities of Bures St Mary and Bures Hamlet

©W. A. Church - Seed Merchant




A piece of Suffolk's rural heritage is to be preserved after Babergh District Council decided to break its own rules and award a grant.
The council is to give £500 towards restoring the wooden cowl which tops the 16th-century grain drying kiln at W. A. Church's seed store in Bures.
The cowl, designed to turn with the wind, came off its mountings in the recent gales and needs to be realigned, while timber and brickwork require restoration.
The firm also hopes to replace the small wooden model of a beer barrel which once adorned the cowl's wind vane, signifying its former role in the brewing trade.
The conical brick kiln, believed to date from around 1530, is one of a group of buildings listed Grade II at W. A. Church's High Street premises, a former maltings.There are three similar kilns in the Babergh area, at Long Melford, Kersey and Little Waldingfield, but the Bures building is unique in retaining its cowl.
It is also the only kiln in Suffolk still in regular use for the purpose for which it was intended.

Babergh policy normally excludes grant aid to privately-owned listed buildings, but in view of the kiln's unique status the council voted to assist with the estimated repair costs of £2,866.
Director Mr. John Ineson said the 450-year-old kiln was not a historical curiosity but an important part of the firm's operations, doing a job modern machines could not do.
Equipped with electric blowers in its base and a steel mesh floor, the kiln remains the most efficient way of drying small seeds such as turnip, kale and clover.
"For small seeds, where the germination temperature is important, you can dry them much more carefully with this," said Mr. Ineson.
"We've got modern electric driers at our other plant but for some jobs the old-fashioned way is still the best."

As recently as the 1940s W. A. Church had three other kilns in Bures but one blew down in a gale, another had to be demolished and a third was remodelled to form another seed drying unit, but this is the last surviving one still in use.~

Babergh planning officer Mr. Mike Crouch said the decision to go against the council's normal policy was a response to exceptional circumstances.
"We felt it was to W. A. Church's credit that they had been prepared to retain the cowl for so long when there were more economic ways of doing the job," he said.
"As the kiln's a bit of a local landmark and a feature of the street scene we felt it was worth supporting in this case."

Text taken from EADT 05.07.1990



Cowl undergoing further restorationduring July 2011.


21 years since its last repair.

Work completed at the end of September 2011.
Unfortunately, due to financial restraints no external grant was available to assist in the funding of this restoration.
It is a credit to the Directors of Church`s to restore this feature, so that we may once again enjoy the view of an original Cowl.

Note the beer barrel on the arm to remind us this Kiln was once used as a Malting


For a more detailed information on W. A. Church, visit their own web site at