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St Michael, Burrow Mump, Somerset

(51°4′12″N, 2°54′58″W)
Burrow Mump
ST 359 305
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Somerset
now Somerset
  • Robin Downes
04 July 2007

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Feature Sets

Burrow Mump is a striking landscape feature, apparently a natural hill, some 6 miles SE of Bridgwater. It is strategically placed immediately adjacent to the present A361 (which must represent an ancient route) and just N of the confluence of the Tone and the Parrett, two of the principal rivers of Somerset. The near terrain is part of the low-lying Levels, frequently flooded in winter; there are fine views towards Mendip to the N, the Quantock Hills to the W and NW, the hills to the S which run up to the border with Dorset & the several lias ridges in the E sector. The nearest settlement is Burrowbridge, at the foot of the hill on the SW side.

The ruined chapel stands on top of Burrow Mump, and according to VCH was substantially a 15thc building with a chancel, central tower, S transept and nave. A crypt was excavated outside the N wall of the nave and a N chapel on the N side of the chancel. It was rebuilt c.1663 and described as ruinous in 1733. In 1793 it was rebuilt again, as a single-celled structure with a W tower and an entrance in the centre of the S wall. In 1836-37 it was functionally replaced by a new church in Burrowbridge itself by Richard Carver, also dedicated to St Michael, and the Burrow Mump chapel fell into ruins again. It was given to the National Trust in 1946. What remains on site is of squared and coursed lias with red brick and Hamstone dressings. It consists of a W tower, a 3-bay nave and a S porch. The only features described here are two heads on the S face of the tower, which may be Romanesque.


The manor of Lyng (in which Burrow Mump stood) was given to Athelney abbey by King Athelstan in 937 In the 12thc the abbey was said to hold this land in return for prayers to the then king, and in 1485-86 to hold it in free alms. The estate passed to the crown on the Dissolution of the abbey in 1539, and the dedication to St Michael was recorded in 1548. A manor of Burrow, probably including Burrow Mump, was mentioned in 1786 in the ownership of John Chard, to whom it had passed from the Harris family. It was Chard’s, descendant, Major A. G. Barrett of Trull, who gave the site (including the chapel) to the National Trust in 1946 as a county War Memorial.


Exterior Features

Exterior Decoration


The EH list description suggests that the coarse detailing of the 18thc rebuilding 'gives the impression that this was erected as an eye-catcher rather than as a church.' According to Pevsner, 'There certainly was a castle here in the12thc. What remains now is also partly medieval, the tower of a church, dedicated, as was usual for churches on hills and rocks, to St Michael.' In the editor’s opinion the heads are both of 12thc date.


English Heritage Listed Building 271178.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset, Harmondsworth 1958, 110.

Somerset County Council, Historic Environment Record 41162.

Victoria County History: Somerset, VI, London 1992, 61-64.