Record Details

NHER Number:3941
Type of record:Building
Name:St Mary Magdalen's Church/Pentney Brooch Hoard


This formerly ornate 12th century church underwent numerous 19th century renovations. It comprises a west tower, south porch and unusually combined chancel (extended in 13th/14th century) and nave. The outside fabric is rendered carrstone and the slate roofing houses several large and impressive stone gargoyles. Inside one can see grotesque corbels as part of the scissor braced twelve bay roof and the plain octagonal font. The famous Petney Saxon brooch hoard was recovered from the graveyard in 1978, thus raising the profile of this pretty church.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TF 7208 1385
Map Sheet:TF71SW

Full description

August 1960. Grade II listed.
Parish church, 12th-century and later, constructed of rendered carstone with a slate roof. There is a tower to the west, a long nave and chancel now in one, and a south porch. The tower is of uncoursed whole flint with some brick, tiles and limestone with stone dressings; 4 stepped diagonal buttresses; chequerwork plinth; 2-light west window with panel tracery, rendered brick mullion, a reset gargoyle and a small trefoil headed light with hood mould; string course to bell stage, 2-light bell openings with reticulated tracery; embattled parapet with flint chequerwork,and large gargoyles to south, west and north. South nave is of rendered carstone, with openings to left and right of central porch both of 3 lights with cusped ogee heads with mouchette under a square head. There is a small C12 semi-circular headed lancet to left of porch. The porch is gabled, rendered and has a chamfered arch with polygonal jambs. Double chamfered south doorway with deeply undercut hood mould. The chancel is of carstone rubble with stone dressings, upper eaves courses of galletted carstone blocks; south chancel with central priest's door, 2-light opening under quatrefoil to right, tall 2-light opening to left with panel tracery under 4-centred arch, lights with low transom. East window with narrow 3-light opening having Decorated tracery part renewed. North nave of rendered carstone, north chancel of carstone and limestone rubble with upper courses of galletted carstone blocks; 4 lancets. Double hollow chamfered north doorway with head renewed, stoup recess to left. The interior consists of a 12 bay roof of 1850, constructed of a nave of 8 bays with arched braces and a chancel of 4 bays with scissor braces. The central 4 bays of the nave have 12th-century walls north and south now raised; walls incorporate to north and south fragments of C12 interlaced arcading, semi-circular headed arches rising from shafts with cushion capitals. South nave window to east with rear arch having reset detached column to east angle having cushion capital at base and top, moulded segmental rear arch; grotesque corbel set below sill of third lancet from east; large tall piscina with plain trefoil head. Plain octagonal font on fat octagonal stem, base of bowl and stem with deeply undercut mouldings. Plain tower arch.

Formerly an ornate Norman church with much conglomerate, internal arcading, and probably apsed. Chancel extended in the late 13th/early 14th century; nave extended west to new tower in 15th century.19th century alterations.
See full report (S1) in file.
E. Rose 20 January 1997.

1978. Found on edge churchyard while digging grave. Excavation followed, by A. Rogerson for NAU, see (S2).
Hoard of Middle Saxon silver brooches. Roman, ?Early Saxon, Middle Saxon and Late Saxon material.
Photos (S2, S3, S4, S5) and press cuttings (S6, S7) in file.

1980. Excavation.
Metal detecting and observation during re-excavation of grave in which the 1978 silver disc brooch hoard was discovered. One silver boss was found. It was presumably one of the bosses missing from four of the brooches (one brooch was complete and another had very small bosses). Top of coffin at depth of c.1.2m indicating that 1978 grave was dug out to a depth of c.1.5m. Hoard therefore must have been found at a depth of less than 1.52m (5 ft) as previously reported. Finds declared treasure trove and acquired by the British Museum.
Excavations also revealed the eastern part of a substantial early or middle Saxon ditch which runs north to south and was probably a boundary. This had been sealed by a layer containing late Saxon sherds and organic material of a domestic nature and there was no evidence of burials.
See (S13) for short summary.
A. Rogerson (NLA) 28 March 2002 amended by M. Langham-Lopez (HES), 14 June 2013.

Internal emulsion was stripped from the east wall and a consecration cross was revealed to the left of the window. A second was identified to the right of the window and a dado painting to the north and south chancel walls.
See (S9) for further details
H. White, (NLA), 19 August 2009

March 2002. Metal-detecting.
Found during re-excavation (for new burial) of grave in which hoard of silver disc brooches had been discovered in 1978:
Middle Saxon silver boss from disc brooch (possibly from one of the hoard brooches).
See Treasure Report by [1] in file.
Acquired by British Museum (2003,0304.1).
A. Rogerson (NLA) 19 July 2002. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 2 May 2020.

South nave wall stripped; further record made (S10).
E. Rose (NLA) 26 March 2005.

1 July 2009.
Permission sought to re-open the chancel door.
See (S11) and plans in file for further details
H. White, (NLA), 19 August 2009.

August 2009.
The Norman church was quite short and is believed to have had a semi-circular apse as its chancel. There is a Norman window next to the south door which is deeply splayed on the interior . Two panels of arcading survive on the nave walls, each shaft consists of an astrugal, cushion capital, chamfered abacus and is topped by intersected semi-circular arches. A long chancel was added instead of the semi-circular apse, and four lancet windows suggest an early 13th century date. The tower was added in the late 13th- 14th century and was later joined to the church by an extension to the nave. There is one bell, inscribed 'John lloyd Esquire, Churchwarden 1821'. The thatched roof was replaced by slate in the Victorian period.
See (S12) for further details
H. White, (NLA), 19 August 2009.

Monument Types

  • DITCH (Early Saxon - 410 AD to 650 AD)
  • DITCH (Middle Saxon - 651 AD to 850 AD)
  • CHURCH (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CHURCH (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • POT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POT (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • BROOCH (Middle Saxon - 651 AD to 850 AD)
  • BROOCH (Middle Saxon - 651 AD to 850 AD)
  • HOARD (Middle Saxon - 651 AD to 850 AD)
  • POT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • DOOR (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • DOOR (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FONT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PISCINA (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PISCINA (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • ROOF TILE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WALL PAINTING (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WINDOW (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WINDOW (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WINDOW (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WINDOW (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • Xtile pavement (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WALL PAINTING (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • Xbell frame (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Article in Serial: Margeson, S. 1992. Middle and Late Saxon Norfolk. The Annual. Vol 1, pp 29-36.
---Unpublished Document: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 2003. Treasure Annual Report 2002. pp 46-47; No 31; Fig 31.
---Drawing: Various. Various. Architectural plans.
---Photograph: NLA. Finds Photograph.
---Unpublished Document: Webster, L. (BM). 2002. Treasure Report.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1980. Churchyard treasure nets Norfolk man £135,000. 17 October.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 2002. Jewellery pieces declared treasure. 27 August.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1999. Church yields historic finds. 20 July.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1997. Church art secrets are uncovered. 23 January.
---Monograph: Pevsner, N and Wilson, B. 1999. Norfolk 2: North-West and South. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. p 589.
---Leaflet: Butler- Stoney, R. & Holbeach, H.. 1984. The Church of St amry Magdalen, Pentley.
---Publication: The Nar Valley Group of Parishes. 2007. Voices of the Nar - celebrating a decade in the life of the Nar valley group of parishes. St Mary Magdalen's Church, Pentney.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1988. [Photograph of St Mary Magdalen's Church Pentney]. 2 March.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Slide: Various. Slide.
---Collection: Norfolk Historic Environment Record Staff. 1975-[2000]. HER Record Notes. Norfolk Historic Environment Service.
<S1>Unpublished Document: Rose, E.. 1997. Building Report. Building Report.
<S2>Unpublished Document: NAU. 2001. NAU Excavation Report.. Norfolk Archaeological Unit.
<S2>Photograph: Rose, E.. 2005. KXY. 6-12.
<S3>Photograph: HNA-B.
<S4>Photograph: BVC; HNF 30-31.
<S5>Photograph: BVC; HNF 30-31.
<S6>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1980-1981. [Articles on the Pentney Brooch Hoard].
<S7>Newspaper Article: The Times. 1980. Gravedigger's gift. 1 December.
<S9>Unpublished Document: Diocese of Norwich. 2009. Norwich DAC summer outing 2009. 15th July.
<S10>Unpublished Document: Rose, E.. 2005. Addendum to Building Report. Building Report.
<S11>Correspondence: Blackman, R.. 2009. Letter from Birdsall, Swash and Blackman LLP to Mr D Eve, English Heritage. 3 March.
<S12>Unpublished Document: Butler- Stoney, R. 1984. The Church of St Mary Magdalen, Pentney.
<S13>Article in Serial: Youngs, S. M. and Clark, J. 1981. Medieval Britain in 1980. Medieval Archaeology. Vol XXV pp 166-228. p 174.

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