Buttercross, July 31, 2015: Swaffham’s history should be protected

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A recent letter to the Lynn News commented on my writing about our parish church and other matters.

Using of a pseudonym was never my idea. All my predecessors wrote under titles. “Turbine” preceded me as did dear “Bystander”.

My earlier comments about our church and its environs drew particular criticism. My comment, which reflected the opinions of many, was that in less than 50 years, this once pleasant and historical area of town has been greatly diminished.

Both sides of Church Walk had 16th century cottages complete with corner shops. The Old Angel Inn stood nearby with its rear sheds, a stables and a courtyard area. When the inn was demolished timbers were found that were as sound as the day they were utilised.

The only remnant of this earlier construction is the later dutch style gable over the present charity shop. Current planning laws would have protected this area.

What replaced them? A Woolworths store, a name now ironically also consigned to history.

It is hoped that the Mary Young gates at the entrance to our churchyard may be restored in the future, but this will be a mammoth task.

At the time of the Woolworths construction, Plowright’s were requested to alter the gates to provide a side panel, bridging the gap that had appeared due to the now wider Church Walk. There was also a pedestrian gate to one side which may be difficult to re-create.

On a positive note, one has to comment very favourably on the recently completed work to the south side of the church.

But it was a surprise to see the existing large underground storm-water cistern not being utilised, complete with its overflow drain.

Many townspeople have been concerned over the disturbance of graves, however old, to install a new storm-water soak-away. Similarly cars are now being parked over further ancient graves.

For hundreds of years parishioners have made their way to church on foot. Those people, however afflicted, still made that journey.

Surely a churchyard has always been a quiet area, and somewhat sacrosanct. Most country churches around us are protected by a walled churchyard with a lytch gate. Apart from hearses and wedding cars, we perhaps ought to have considered following their example