Sunday, 12 February 2012

Saint Mary Magdalen - Pentney

Saint Mary Magdalen
© Godric Godricson

Pentney is  a fine example of a traditional Norfolk graveyard attached to a functioning parish Church at the heart of the village.

The burial space is relatively small as befits the small nature of the village of Pentney which did not see the massive growth in population witnessed by towns in the 19th Century. Without the pressure of considering public health the graveyard could remain largely unchanged and unaltered through time.

The graveyard surrounding the Church would  normally be consecrated after the 12th Century and was established for the benefit of the village. Some parishes in Norfolk have a memory of fairs and events being held in the graveyard whilst others reference that the Rector had the right to graze his sheep in the graveyard. The Church at Pentney appears to have been doubled in length although the overall perception created is that this is a long thin Church without the benefit of height.

A long thin 14th Century Church
© Godric Godricson

The monuments around the Church are varied and have the anomalyy of containing modern inhumations or burials and older burials from the 19th century. There is no evidence of truly ancient monuments although there will always be ancient burials in a Church of this antiquity. It goes without saying that all Churches of this period re-used grave space with there being no ‘in perpetuity’ arrangements. Each person would expect to be disinterred after a period of time to be replaced by neighbours and family in the village.

© Godric Godricson
The Church at Pentney contains some rather curious and beautiful monuments although the overall harmony of the older monuments is confused by modern granite and infilling between older graves. Interestingly, the newer ‘green’ tradition in burials in seen in Pentney where the field adjacent is being used for such burials. There is a tendency at pentney to use a technique that may be described as 'infilling' seen in urban planning where gardens are given over to new developments. In Pentney, apparently vacant graves are given over to newcomers with granite headstone created without art or style.

The dignity of railings
© Godric Godricson
 Old monuments do have 'something' about them both in their conception and execution and the older railings and brambles lend a somewhat distracted ambience to the cemetery. There is style in the monuments that is not echoed in the modern tradition.

Pentney is a lovely village and situated conveniently beside the A47.

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