The village of Bures today is divided into two halves by the River Stour, which is also the county boundary, with the historic village of Bures Hamlet in Essex and that of Bures St Mary in Suffolk. Bures sits on the B1508 and is the crossing point of the River Stour connecting Sudbury, c10km to the north with Colchester, c.14km to the south east.
Bures Hamlet sits on the Essex side of the River and is the smaller of the two sides of Bures. The village is laid out along the main roads leading to Bridge Street and the crossing over the River Stour, namely Colchester Road and Station Hill, but the areas either side of the river crossing appear to be the main focal points for each village. The common is situated adjacent to the river and just south of Bridge Street and today it gives the village a more open aspect compared with Bures St Mary.
The village of Bures St Mary in Suffolk is centred on Church Square leading to the crossing of the River Stour on Bridge Street into a ‘Y’ formation of roads, the northern branch leading out to Sudbury on the B1058 and the southern branch following the course of the river until the next crossing at the A134 by Nayland. The historic core of the village is centred around the church and High Street where the buildings often front the road, leaving no room for a pavement, often giving it a closed-in feeling. Around the church, along church Square and leading onto Nayland Road, the road does widen out and the area may formerly have functioned as an informal market place. Wharf Lane, running alongside the river west of the church, was used for loading and unloading goods transported by river, which was navigable up to this point.
The church of St Mary (SHER BSM 015) lies on the northern side of the River Stour and is recorded in the Domesday Book. The current building dates to the 14th century, with additions continuing into the 16th century.
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