Serving the communities of Bures St Mary and Bures Hamlet



St Mary`s Church and the Waldegraves.

Although this article dates back to the 17th century and not in keeping with the rest of the site ( 1875 - 2010), it has been included because the findings are so important to the history of the village.

<<<<<<<< William Waldegrave Crest.



When you enter the Church look towards the altar and then to the right you will find two Waldegrave tombs sitting grandly within the Chancel.

This is a fine monument to Sir William Waldegrave (died 1613), his wife Elizabethm and their ten children.

On the front of the memorial you will observe twelve small effigies but strangely enough none to remember William, the deceased.

All the arms of the twelve figures have been sheared off, presumably by a soldiers sword on the orders of William Dowsing in 1643.(see notes below)

Records indicate Dowsing visited Bures to carry out his work of destruction on February 23rd 1643

Sir William Waldegrave(right) and his six boys

Elizabeth Waldegrave(left) and the four girls

It is only when you look around the back of the monument under the light of the window, can you find the inscription.

To the left of the Waldegrave Monument is a tomb chest with a slab, stripped of its brasses inclined on the top, which is believed to be that of Sir George Waldegrave.


Stained Glass window in the Waldegraves Chapel

Link to Waldegrave Family Tree

On a window ledge in the north aisle is the very rare wooden effigy of a knight, complete with mail coat, mail hose and knee cops, sword belt and part of sword, legs crossed and feet spurred, with lion at his feet, and angels supporting the cushion beneath his head.

The effigy is carved in sweet chestnut, and dates from about 1330.

It is one of only two of that period in Suffolk. Suffolk's only other wooden medieval effigy is across the county at Heveningham.

Its identity cannot be proven as there are no identification marks, but it is almost certain that it represents Sir Richard De Cornard. This belief was current as long ago as the 16th century, when the effigy was in the same position under the window.

It is believed that the body is buried beneath the north wall. At some period the effigy has been given a coat of paint, presumably with the idea of preserving it, which accounts for the polished appearance of the wood.

There are believed to be only three wooden effigy`s in the entire country of such age.


William Dowsing (1596–1668) operated at the time of the English Civil War. Dowsing was a puritan soldier who was born in Laxfield, Suffolk.

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 the 28th of 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.

Dowsing carried out his work in 1643-4 by visiting over 250 churches in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, removing or defacing items that he thought fitted the requirements outlined in the Ordinance. He recruited assistants, apparently among his friends and family, and where they were unable to perform the work themselves he left instructions for the work to be carried out. Sometimes the local inhabitants assisted his work, but often he was met by resistance or non-co-operation. His commission, backed up by the ability to call on military force if necessary, meant that he usually got his way. He charged each church a noble (a third of a pound:- 33p) for his services.

Extracts from Dowsing own notes:-

Feb. 23. At Mr. [Capt.] Watgraves [Waldegrave’s] chappel, 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 chappell. I had not the 6s. 8d. yet promised it. And gave order to take down a cross.

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.

Text Courtesy of St Mary`s Church booklet
Additional information by Rebecca Fraser, Historical Researcher and Author

Alan Beales ver1 06/04/10