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Erpingham church 640AT

Expansion hitch for Erpingham church graveyard

2017: Plans to expand the graveyard at medieval St Mary’s Church in Erpingham have met with a snag as the local council have insisted on an expensive archaeological survey.

The parochial church council at Erpingham Parish Church had hoped to extend its graveyard over half an acre of adjoining land to cater for community need for the next 100 years. But the church has been told by North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) it would first need to have a survey of the area done, which the church’s Rev Canon Paul Thomas said could cost between £12,000 and £20,000.
The Rev Thomas said that he was disappointed with the council’s stance. The church had been told that before the planning application will be heard they have to authorise an archaeological dig of two 30-metre trenches 1.8 metres deep as they believe it is the site of a medieval village; even though evidence points to the village being much further away.
The Rev Thomas said the church would not benefit from extending the churchyard, but saw it as a community service. He called on the council to fund the survey, as it could face a burial space shortage if the extension did not go ahead, which means the local authority would have to provide cemetery space elsewhere, possibly at Aylsham or Cromer. The current churchyard is believed to have capacity for between three and eight more years.
An NNDC spokesman said that it was common practice for Norfolk County Council’s Historic Environment Service to comment on applications where there was a strong possibility items of archaeological interest could be uncovered. It is not an unusual requirement on planning applications which seek permission to extend the burial grounds of churchyards.
For the full story, see the North Norfolk News, where this article first appeared.

The image of St Mary’s church is courtesy of http://www.norfolkchurches.co.uk

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