Serving the communities of Bures St Mary and Bures Hamlet

Local Information



BURES is located on the border between South Suffolk and North Essex, in the heart of picturesque `Constable` country and in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty(AONB)


The village we call Bures, is not a single entity but a union of the two parishes of Bures Hamlet (in Essex) and Bures St Mary (in Suffolk)
Both parishes lie either side of the River Stour, which is the county boundary between Essex and Suffolk.
To make life much easier for everyone, we just call the village Bures.
There cannot be many villages or towns in the UK which are divided down the centre by a county boundary ?

With one half in Suffolk and the other in Essex, the village is served by two county councils, three district (Colchester/Braintree/Babergh) councils, two Members of Parliament and two Education Authorities (Essex/Suffolk).
We also have two parish councils, one for each side of the river.
The police, fire and ambulance services are also controlled by their respective County Councils.
This does seem to be complex, but it works.

The local doctor has a surgery in the village, part of a larger health centre located in Sudbury.

One of our oldest buildings is St Stephens Chapel which dates back to 1218 when it was dedicated by the Archbishop of Canterbury. It predates St Mary`s Church in the village centre, by some 150 years.
Even further back than that, history tells us on Christmas Day 855, Bishop Humbert of Elmham anointed a 14-year-old boy as King of the East Angles. The boy was Edmund, the chosen heir of King Offa, and his coronation was documented at `Burva`.
The chronicler Galfridus de Fontibus also described the coronation as having taken place at "Bures", which is an ancient royal hill.
It is the general belief that this was the lonely hilltop, where St Stephen's Chapel now stands.

In 1659 the village was also known as "Bewers" before it gained its modern title of Bures.

During the Victorian era, Bures was an Industrial village, completely self sufficient.
We had our own Tannery, Maltings, Brickworks, Abattoir, Gas Works, Electricity Generator and many other small industries. To keep the workers from suffering from de-hydration we had 8+ Public Houses !

Before the coming of the railway in 1849 the transportation of heavy goods manufactured in the village, such as bricks and malt were undertaken by barge (lighter) along the River Stour down to Mistley. This was immortalised by the paintings of John Constable with his portraits of Flatford Dry Dock and the White Horse etc
As time progressed, the railway had gained a foothold in speed and reliability, consequently the slow river traffic fell into decline and stopped in the early 1900`s
The rail line in its prime, connected Marks Tey to Sudbury and onward to Cambridge and Bury St Edmunds.

Unfortunately, even the railway wasn`t safe, the transportation of goods collapsed as they were diverted away too road haulage and Dr Beechings axe fell during the 1960`s. Fortunately for us, the section between Sudbury, Bures and Marks Tey was left intact, where today it links up with the main line inter-city services to London, Liverpool Street.

Like all villages, we have seen considerable change since those days. Today every plot of land is being developed to satisfy the incoming commuting public. One positive effect has seen the railway line rapidly grow in passenger numbers, which has resulted in millions being spent on upgrading the rail track as well as the introduction of modern rolling stock.

We can offer two Nature Reserves, Arger Fen a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the adjacent Spouses Vale owned by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust.

Back in the 1950`s we boasted something like 50 retailers within the two parishes, which included the pubs, a Co-op store, Barclays Bank, Blacksmiths and a multitude of small shops providing everything you could possibly require without leaving the village.
Sadly, like many villages, we have seen a decline of those shops over the years and we now only currently support two retailers and a Post Office.

Road Mileage - Colchester (10m) Sudbury (5m) Bury St Edmunds (20m) Ipswich (23m) Long Melford(8m) Lavenham (12m)

Public transport is provided by Chambers Coaches which run a daily service between Colchester - Bures - Sudbury - Lavenham - Bury St Edmunds. Chambers have a fleet of coaches/buses which are based in the village at their head office and workshop.



The centre of the village has many old historic buildings, some dating from the 16th and 17th century. Currently we have registered 75 listed buildings.

The population of Bures (2001 census) numbers around 1800, with 659 in Bures Hamlet and 728 in Bures St Mary.

In the Doomsday records, the village is referred to as "Bura" or "Bure", it`s documented having a church with 18 acres of free land. The name "Bures" could be derived from either an Old English word "bur", meaning a cottage or bower, or from a Celtic word meaning a "boundary",
If the village was not named until after the Norman Conquest, (circa 1066) it could have been called after a French village of the same name, of which there are at least eight.
(Bures en Bray, Bures sur Dives, Bures Les Monts, Bures (orne), Bures (Yvelines), Bures Sur Yvette, Bures, Les Bures.

The village hosts many activities throughout the year:-
Open Garden weekend, Jazz by the Stour, Carnival & Fete, Autumn Street Fair, Raft race on the river, Horticultural Show, Boot sales, Dog shows, Pantomime and Plays etc

MOUNT BURES lies adjacent to Bures Hamlet extending from the River Stour to the North and Wakes Colne to the South.
It has no retail outlets, only one Public House and is predominately a farming community, very sparsely populated.
It is represented by a Member of Parliament covering North Essex and comes under the jurisdiction of Colchester Borough Council.

The Marks Tey - Sudbury Railway line passes non-stop through the centre of the village.
One strange anomaly is that it holds land to the North of the River Stour, which is in Suffolk. This was the result of the river being diverted a few hundred yards back in the middle-ages.