According to my studies, the Churchyard was once considered to have contained 4 acres. Obviously, through the years, this has shrunk considerably. Sometimes this has been done officially but, at others, I rather suspect other means were used.
As mentioned in 'Notes on Cromer Churches', there must have been some strange goings-on during the middle of the l9th century, for not only was the church in great decay but, according to the "Town Book", parishioners were in the habit of drying their washing hung on lines in the churchyard, which was also let out (officially) as pasture for sheep and cattle. There are some very interesting entries in the Churchwardens' Accounts of the same period, for hedgehogs were bought at a cost of four pence each to keep down the vermin in the Churchyard.
On the 22nd March 1895 a meeting in the Vestry was convened for the inhabitants of Cromer. The purpose of the meeting was to hear a proposition from the newly formed Cromer Urban District Council who wanted to widen the roads adjacent to the churchyard and required a Faculty to do so. The assembly in the Vestry agreed and, eventually, the churchyard was cut back by an average of 12 feet in Church Street, High Street and Tucker Street. Cromer U.D.C. agreeing to become responsible for the maintenance of the churchyard as an open space, accessible to the public, under the provisions of the Open Spaces Acts of 1877-1890.
A close examination of the churchyard wall will reveal, engraved on the stone parapet on the Church Street side: "The Churchyard extends an average of 12 feet beyond this wall." On the Tucker Street side the engraving reads: "The Churchyard extends an average of 6 feet beyond this wall."
In 1934, the Cromer U.D.C. again sought permission to remove another portion of the churchyard at the north eastern and south western corners, in order to make the corner less dangerous, but this time it met with great hostility. Public meetings were held to protest at the application, and eventually the Faculty was refused by the Chancellor of the Diocese at the Norwich Consistory Court.
The churchyard was once enclosed by iron railings, which were taken down as part of the War effort during the 2nd World War. Although greatly disputed at the time, I understand, it could be seen as a blessing in disguise for, today, particularly during the summer months, the churchyard has become one of the showpieces of Cromer town centre.
This brief History of Cromer Parish Church is based on extracts from 'The History of Cromer Parish Church' by S.K. Clarke. It was edited by Robin Selwyn and prepared for the Web site by David Orsborne.