Village Sign & Church – Pentney, Norfolk

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This is really a story about…… you should never put off what you want to do until another time, or something like that, because it will be too late.  Which is what happened to me about the building on the village sign in Pentney, no it didn’t fall down, it was restored.  But I so wanted to see Pentney Abbey Gatehouse in Norfolk, in its unrestored state, and I very nearly did.  It is privately owned, and very difficult to find, also they didn’t want people turning up just to take photos.  As there was, and still is, a caravan park on the site, the plan was to book the caravan we had then, for a night so I could explore the ruins.  Of course it was always something we would do later….. but now it is no longer a ruin, but a beautifully restored building, but I so wished we had booked.

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This building, was the Gatehouse of what is locally known as Pentney Abbey, an Augustinian Priory for nearly 500 years, from 1075, in the time of William of Normandy, to its Suppression by King Henry VIII in 1534. The Priory went in to decline in the 15th century, and a lot of the stone was used for Abbey Farm and many buildings in the village.  It is also said that the soldiers of Oliver Cromwell, during the Civil War, brought the Priory really to a ruin. They came up the river Nar in flat bottomed boats and used the buildings for target practice!   There is also a story that the gatehouse was too far away for them to destroy, and that is why it was left standing.  You can only imagine what splendour the rest of the buildings were, when you consider this was only the gatehouse.

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I found a photo by Simon Knox, who luckily explored the building before restoration.  The owners with the help of English Heritage have carried out a wonderful job, as shown by a photo I found in a newspaper, and now the gatehouse will stand for many centuries to come, you can even get married there.

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The village does have a lovely part Norman Church, St Mary Magdalene, so quite a lot of history in this now very quiet charming village, which once had a mighty Priory as a near neighbour.

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14 comments

  1. I had no idea a gate house could look like that! I suppose the walls would have been pulled down for their stones. That is very impressive. Hope your fur kids are doing better.

    1. Yes it could have had walls around the Priory and the stone would have been reused. There was also a very large church inside the walls, but all of it, apart from the gatehouse have long gone, which is such a shame. Thank you, fur family are getting better, starting to eat again now 🙂

  2. Nice to see the photo from before the restoration. The lower stonework looks as though it has been largely replaced or plastered over. Interesting building. Thanks for the history.

    1. Just wish I had been able to get to it before the restoration, sometimes things get lost, like you have pointed out the stonework. It was on the edge of collapsing and they have carried out a wonderful job, but I just wished I had photographed it as it was.

  3. Gorgeous . Love the sign as well as the fine gatehouse even if it may not be quite so atmospheric as it was when abandoned. Hope your little doggies are feeling perkier.x

    1. Yes thats the word, atmospheric, I will have to visit to see, but I doubt it will have as much. Yes thank you, they are feeling much better, should hopefully be back to normal in a day or two. I have a feeling it was some thing they all ate, glad it wasn’t something we had eaten 🙂

      1. Yes, re: something they ate~ it sounded like it from what you said~ unusual for all three to fall ill at exactly the same time or roughly so unless something they had all gotten into. Great news that they are on the mend. The gatehouse is beautiful no matter and wonderful someone restored it sympathetically~ it reminds me a bit of Butley Priory , also a gatehouse that can be rented out or rooms to stay in ~ It is in Suffolk~ Originally part of a 14th c priory (the only bit left I am pretty sure) but the gatehouse alone a very beautiful structure and a large space.You may have seen or heard of it. It looks a wonderful place to stay, but too expensive for my budget unfortunately. Still, ” a cat can look at a King” anyway.

      2. Just googled Butley Priory, what a wonderful building, never heard of it before, thanks for that. I wished these places did afternoon tea, what could be nicer. There are just so many places to discover, its lovely to find a new one 🙂

  4. Yes! That would be especially nice for those who would like a peek but cannot afford to stay overnight ~ they do weddings and such to stay afloat but not sure if they serve tea separately to meals they provide~ that may just be for paying guests(?) Yes, maybe you will end up going to explore it one day. 🙂

  5. What a lovely old gatehouse, and the restoration looks like it was done well. A shame you didn’t get to see it before, while it was still in ruins, but there’s only one answer, as you say – remember when you see another such place! Perhaps there was a good reason this time – maybe the building was in a dangerous state, or something!

    1. You could be right there, there is always a reason why…….could have been a large lump of stone with my name on LOL, oh but so true. Yes they have done a lovely job and I will see if we can visit, I think you have to make an appointment, or maybe they will open on Heritage Day in September 🙂

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