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Row over Martham burial ground

PUBLISHED: 16:52 30 July 2009 | UPDATED: 14:32 03 July 2010

A MARTHAM pensioner says the privacy of his home has been affected by a project to tidy up a neighbouring graveyard to make it more accessible to the public.

A MARTHAM pensioner says the privacy of his home has been affected by a project to tidy up a neighbouring graveyard to make it more accessible to the public.

Eric Coggins, 82, of Oak Tree Close, feared the ongoing work undertaken by the parish council and Martham Baptist Church to clear undergrowth at the former “Dissenters” burial ground meant visitors to the graveyard could now get to his back garden.

He said previously the long undergrowth had formed a “boundary” obscuring his property from the graveyard and preventing children in particular from being able to run through from the burial site to his back gate.

The Londoner, who has lived in the bungalow since 1993, said he had a gentleman's agreement with a previous Baptist minister whereby he would maintain the graveyard's boundary in return for the site remaining in its overgrown state.

He said: “It opens out onto my property. Now anybody can get onto my property. They can walk straight in through the back gate.”

He added people rarely visited the graveyard and the last visitor he could remember was an American man researching his family history three or four years ago.

However, Malcolm Turner, secretary of Martham Baptist Church, said the clean up was being done because the church wanted to open the graveyard up to visitors, especially as there was a growing interest in family history.

He pledged to speak to Mr Coggins to allay his fears before the project was completed.

He said: “We want this to be resolved amicably. We don't want to upset anybody, especially not the neighbours of the graveyard as they have got to live with it.”

The graveyard was used up until 1924 and is believed to hold up to 30 bodies of Baptist “Dissenters”- the name given to the group that separated from the Church of England and opposed the interference of the state in religious matters during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.


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