Burelles Église Saint-Martin

What you need to know about this church

Église Saint-Martin Burelles

Where to find this church

Church Information

Église Saint-Martin is located in Burelles, a small village with 128 inhabitants about 7 km south of the town of Vervins in the Département Aisne in the région Hauts-de-France.

The church is open every day from 9 am

This church was listed as a historical monument in 1931

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Burelles Église Saint-Martin
Church from south-west
Church from north-west

Visiting Église Saint-Martin

The church of Saint-Martin in Burelles is situated on a hill in the village, and the view from the tower reaches as far as Gronard. Therefore, there is a theory that it was a central station of a warning network that also included the nearby churches in Hary, Houry and Prisces.

A first church probably existed in the 11th century; construction of the current church began around 1540. At first, a choir was built of white stones. A keystone bears three fleurs-de-lis. The ceiling has a ribbed vault. A Gothic window from the 16th century is now bricked up.

At the beginning of the 17th century, the transept and bell tower were added and a nave was dispensed with, so that the original shape of Saint-Martin is an inverted cross. That there is no nave is, incidentally, unique in the Thiérache.

The keep is classically for the Thiérache built of bricks. The porch consists of three levels, two of which have ribbed vaults. A side tower gives access to the main defence centre via a restored spiral staircase. A bay turret, machicolations and embrasures enabled the fighters to fire on the attackers. It finally opens into the guard’s room, also restored, where a good 20 people could hold out. A fireplace in its original state still exists.

On the second level, under the beautiful intertwined beams of the transept, is the large refuge room (16 x 6 metres) which is said to hold up to 150 people. At the end of the attic, two embrasures and a weir latrine of considerable size continued the defences.

There are also three coulter towers, one at the corner of the façade, the other two between the choir and transept. The fifty embrasures with steep fires distributed over the keep completed one of the most successful defence systems of the Thiérache. You can see their construction very well in one of the photos in the slide show.

As it had no nave, the choir is the most decorated part of the church. Among the most beautiful objects kept in Saint-Martin are the main marble altar and altarpiece from 1743 and the Virgin and Child in polychrome limestone from the 14th century.

The church is open daily, but only the basement is freely accessible. However, you can take a virtual tour of the escape rooms on the upper floor by watching the video above. Or you can contact the “Association Saint Martin de Burelles” (see tourism page) for a guided visit.

That’s what we did and were welcomed by Mr Vignez from the Association and Mr Vanneau, President of the “Société archéologique et historique de Vervins”. We would like to take this opportunity to thank them once again for taking the time to meet us.

This gave us the opportunity to visit the fortifications from the inside, including a detailed explanation of the history of Saint-Martin. An excellent insight into one of the most spectacular fortified churches in the region!

View into the nave