Mission Church, Birchwood
Hidden from the little road in Birchwood, behind a white rendered house which was ‘The Buckland St. Mary Rake and Gate Manufactory’ around 1840, lies Birchwood Church.
It was built by the Reverend Lance in 1887 of flint and hamstone, like St Mary’s, as a mission church for Birchwood. Although known as Birchwood Church, technically it is a ‘Chapel of Ease’, a place of worship which is more accessible.
The parish of Buckland St Mary is so widespread it took an unreasonable length of time for the parishioners, most of whom were farming folk, to walk to the village.
The area within the walls surrounding the Church is grassed over, however there are no graves as Birchwood Church is built on ‘Dedicated’ ground and not ‘Consecrated’ ground. All burials take place at St Mary’s.
The church is of simple design, comprising a nave and sanctuary with the entrance via a small porch. Heating is provided by a wood burning stove at the back of the church and lighting comes from three oil lamps suspended from the ceiling augmented with the use of candles on raised sconces in the pews.
To complete the simple theme, hymns and other church music is played on a harmonium. Thus we can boast that we have a small rural church which is untouched by modern amenities and to retain the feeling of being able to step back in time, the Parochial Church Council have agreed to keep to the Book of Common Prayer (1662 version) for all Communion services.