SJ 50 SW
ACTON BURNELL CP
Church of St Mary
Parish church. 1250-80, restored and tower added in 1887-9. Coursed red and yellow sandstone rubble with red and grey sandstone ashlar dressings, tower of squared and coursed yellow sandstone with ashlar dressings; plain tile roofs. Cruciform plan with north porch, and tower in north-east angle.
Tower: 3 stages; 3 offsets to east, chamfered offset to belfry with clasping buttresses, moulded corbels to pyramidal roof with weathervane, and gabled dormer to west with shaped barge boards; 2 trefoil headed louvred belfry lights with hollow-chamfered reveals and hoodmoulds with uncarved stops and divided by central buttress; quatrefoil openings to middle stage; hollow-chamfered first stage lancet to north,and doorway to east with chamfered arch, and boarded door with strap hinges.
Nave: chamfered plinth, angle buttresses to west with 4 closely-spaced offsets, corbel table with moulded and carved corbels, and coped parapeted gables with moulded and carved kneelers; parapeted gable end to west rests on moulded corbels at eaves level; west front: window of 3 stepped lights with moulded reveals and hoodmould with carved stops; moulded arched doorway has hoodmould with carved stops and C19 boarded door with strap hinges; south front: 3 chamfered trefoil-headed lancets with hoodmoulds and carved stops; blocked doorway between first and second windows from right with moulded arch and hoodmould with carved stops; north front: 2 chamfered trefoil-headed lancets to right with hoodmoulds and carved stops, small circular quatrefoiled window high up to left; moulded-arched doorway off-centre to left has hoodmould with carved stops and two C19 boarded doors with strap hinges; porch with chamfered plinth and coped parapeted gable, double chamfered arch with inner chamfer dying into responds and hoodmould with carved stops, and niche in apex of gable with nodding trefoiled head and hoodmould with carved stops. Transepts: chamfered plinth, corbel table with moulded and carved corbels, and coped parapeted gable with moulded kneelers; north and south windows each of 3 lights with geometrical tracery consisting of quatrefoil and trefoils, hollow chamfered reveals, and hoodmould with carved stops; pairs of east and west lancets to south transept and pair of blocked east lancets to north transept, each with trefoil head, chamfered reveals and hoodmould with carved stops.
Chancel:chamfered plinth, cill string, angle buttresses, and coped parapeted gable end; north front: triple lancets to left with trefoil heads, moulded reveals, and hoodmoulds with carved stops; large chamfered-arched recess to right with cill string carried over as hoodmould, and small square opening within to left; south front:group of 4 lancets to right and pair to left with trefoil heads and hoodmoulds with carved stops, those to right with moulded reveals and those to left with chamfered reveals; priest's doorway off centre to left with chamfered arch, cill string carried over as hoodmould, and boarded door with strap hinges; east end: large window of 2 paired trefoil-headed lights with geometrical tracery consisting of trefoils and cinquefoil in circles, nook shafts with carved capitals, moulded reveals, and hoodmould with carved stops; small circular window in apex of gable above.
Interior: 10-bay nave roof dated 1598 and 5-bay chancel roof dated 1571 with arch bracing to collars, cusped windbraces, queen struts and V-struts; transept, chancel, and tower arches have chamfered jambs with carved stops, moulded inner arches dying into responds, moulded outer arches resting on short colonnettes with carved and moulded capitals and carved corbels,and hoodmoulds with carved stops; nave windows with chamfered reveals, transept windows with moulded rear arches and hoodmoulds with carved stops; chancel has cill string rising as hoodmould above priest's doorway, side windows have nook shafts with stiff-leaf capitals, moulded trefoil rear arches, and hoodmoulds with carved stops; east window has nook shafts with carved capitals and hoodmould with carved stops; C14 ogee-arched tomb recess in south wall of south transept; moulded trefoil-headed arched piscina in each transept, small piscina in south-east corner of nave, and double piscina in chancel with moulded trefoil-headed arch, carved bowls and hoodmould with carved stops; trefoil-headed chamfered-arched piscina or aumbry in north wall of chancel. Fittings include: C13 octagonal stone font with trefoil-headed arcading and attached shafts with moulded capitals, except one with carved stiff-leaf; C16 linen-fold panelling behind altar; Cl7 five-sided wooden pulpit on stone base; probably 1887-9 altar rails and choir stalls. Medieval floor tiles in north transept and probably medieval stencilled wall decoration in south transept. Most windows with clear diamond-leaded glass. Monuments include: chest tomb in north transept to Sir Nicholas Burnell (died 1382) with crocketed ogee-arched arcading and a brass on top; large alabaster monument in north transept to Sir Richard Lee (died 1591) has 2 recumbent effigies under a round arch with kneeling offspring behind, flanking piers, much strapwork decoration, and central coat of arms above with flanking terms; large monument in north transept to Sir Humphrey Lee (died 1632) by Nicholas Stone with 2 kneeling figures facing each other across a desk, 2 round arches with carved soffits, flanking pilasters, offspring in row beneath, and triangular pediment above with shield; many other wall tablets in transepts, nave and chancel including C17 brass plaques and a tablet of 1794 signed by King of Bath with a military trophy.
The church was built for Robert Burnell (died 1292) whose fortified house stands in ruins nearby [Acton Burnell Castle (q.v.)].
Buildings of England. pp.49-51
DHS Cranage, An Architectural Account of the Churches of Shropshire, Vol 6, pp.450-61
John Salmon, Acton Burnell and its Church, 1974, pp.2-6.
Listing NGR: SJ5335101931