St James Churchyard
There are approximately 20,000 churches and chapels in England each with an average of at least one acre of land. Most of these have never been treated with any form of chemicals. They are quiet and peaceful places and represent very important areas, not only for the local population but also for a wide variety of wildlife, many of which are in rapid decline.
In 1987 what is now Natural England set up the Churchyard and Conservation Plan. The aim was to record and study the habitats of the churchyards throughout the country and improve them if possible. In 2003 the St. James’s Churchyard became part of the Plan.
The PCC agreed that the management of six areas of the churchyard, which were not actively used, could be altered. Mowing schedules were reduced and the new regime was monitored. The fertility of the soil is very high and susceptible to being overtaken by rank weeds, such as hogweed, cow parsley and nettles. Most wild flowers, however, thrive on land of low fertility. A management plan is in place to reduce the fertility by sowing yellow rattle: this is semi parasitic to grasses and should help more flowers to become established.Limited removal of top soil and planting wild flower seed, hand weeding and cutting back more rampant weeds has been part of this continuing plan.
Bird and butterfly populations have remained stable. The village scouts and cubs made and installed four nesting boxes which have been occupied regularly by blue titsand, in 2010 surprisingly by a solitary nest of tree bees (BombusHypnorum). Bats roost in churchyardin summer, but have not been identified as yet, and we haven’t found out where the bats go to in winter.
This has been an interesting and informative project which will continue for some time.
And we’ve been doing it since Jim Sanger ‘persuaded’ some of us into ‘volunteering’ more than 25 years ago.
It’s an absolute pleasure to work in this pretty corner of the village. The rota is organised, the mower, strimmer and fuel is provided, and the servicing arranged. All we have to do is to turn up for duty once or twice a year for an hour or two to keep the grass under control.
Curiously, as time has passed, the team seems to have grown a little older. And so for 2021 we would like to add to our merry band and find new ‘volunteers’ to swell our numbers – men or women of course – so that each person only has to work once in the summer.
If you would like to find out more about what is involved, please give Jim a ring on 833655 or email him at Jim@JimSanger.com
You would be very welcome to join us.