Serving the communities of Bures St Mary and Bures Hamlet






The Puritans were a group of English Reformed Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries, who sought to "purify" the Church of England from all Roman Catholic practices from within.

The Pilgrims who emigrated in the 1620`s were nearly all Puritans. They were subsequently followed by thousands of Puritans in the 1630s, and these Puritans left their mark on their new land, becoming the most dynamic Christian force in the American colonies. Back in England, the Puritans had been people of means and political influence, but King Charles would not tolerate their attempts to reform the Church of England. Persecution mounted. To many there seemed no hope but to leave England. Perhaps in America they could establish a colony whose government, society, and church were all based upon the Bible. "New England" could become a light Old England could follow out of the darkness of corruption.

Consequently Herbert Pelham of Ferriers, Bures found himself increasingly dissatisfied with the High Church Proclivities of the government and so he took the enormous step to emigrate, offering passage to any villagers who wished to join him.

The most notable and active Puritan was William Dowsing who lived at Laxfield in Suffolk, in the seventeenth century.

In 1643 he was appointed by their captain-general, the Earl of Manchester, as "Commissioner for the destruction of monuments of idolatry and superstition" to carry out a Parliamentary Ordinance of 28 August 1643 which stated that "all Monuments of Superstition and Idolatry should be removed and abolished", specifying: "fixed altars, altar rails, chancel steps, crucifixes, crosses, images of the Virgin Mary and pictures of saints or superstitious inscriptions." In May 1644 the scope of the ordinance was widened to include representations of angels (a particular obsession of Dowsing's), rood lofts, holy water stoups, and images in stone, wood and glass and on plate.

In late 1643 and 1644, during the Civil War in England, he visited parish churches, breaking up pictures, crosses, crucifixes, stained glass, monumental brasses, and altar rails.
Some 250 churches in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk were subject to his attentions, as were all the Cambridge University Colleges.

Records indicate Dowsing visited Bures on Feb 23rd 1643:-

1643. Feb. 23. At Mr. [Capt.] Waldegraves Chapel, in Buers [Smallbridge Hall chapel, Bures St Mary], there was a picture of God the Father, and divers other superstitious pictures, 20 at least, which they promised to break, his daughter and servants. He himself was not at home, neither could they find the key of the chapel. I had not the 6s. 8d. yet promised it. And gave order to take down a cross.

1643. Buers [Bures St Mary], Feb. 23. We brake down above 600 superstitious pictures, 8 Holy Ghosts, 3 of God the Father, and 3 of the Son. We took up 5 superstitious of Quorum animabus propitietur deus; one Pray for the soul. And superstitious in the windows, and some divers of the apostles.

If you visit the Waldegrave memorial inside St Mary`s Church, you can see evidence of Dowsings work

The arms have been removed from these effigies

St Mary`s Church link

to be continued and amended as required