Saturday, 20 August 2011

Litcham - All Saints


Litcham - All Saints
© Godric Godricson

Some time ago I came across the parish of All Saints in Litcham on a drive around the County of Norfolk. The village is pretty but in many ways it is unremarkable and no more or less than many other Norfolk towns and villages. However, the parish Church has wonderful brick lined graves  that represent many similar tombs around East Anglia. The graveyard is clearly of great antiquity and a dedication of the Church  to “All Saints” means that the Church is ancient. The photograph is interesting because we find two brick lined graves that are in effect giving way and succumbing to the effects of antiquity, poor workmanship and the probable effects of soil that is too soft for such structures against the base of a Church wall.

The inhabitants of the graves are less important than the narrative of their position . We have two brick lined  tombs capped by a rough ledger stone and separated by a sandstone stele of 1822.  The three hang together in a drunken fashion and are emblematic of the strange companions found in cemeteries.

The occupants of the brick tombs are clearly a ‘cut above the rest’ when it comes to burials. They are separated from the cold soil in their wait for immortality by the thickness of the brick lining and their wooden coffins. Although they were not able to afford a better quality ledger stone. In this example, we have a fairly rough sandstone ledger rather than a finer polished stone of “Tournai marble” from Belgium. Such marble is found in East Anglia and when seen in ‘intramural inhumation’ is a sign of wealth and privilege. Often with wonderful Momenti Mori the high polish of this black stone gives an elegance to the burial.  Momenti Mori are seen around the world and  we see that they stand as a warning and as an example that we should take from history.

The tombs in the cemetery at Litcham are elegant in their simplicity and speak  of people in the village who had some resources, even if they didn’t have as much as those who could afford to be buried inside. The tombs are  beginning the long descent into dereliction and decay and one wonders how long this burial will survive as the voids underneath may begin to undermine the structure of the Church itself.


Momenti Mori Necton Parish Church
© Godric Godricson


A link to a story about the searce for a brick lined family grave in Cambridge see this link

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