Diversity and abundance for visitors to explore
The churchyard of All Saints, Hethel, is a remnant of the ancient meadows, flower-rich grasslands, which were once widespread but are now disappearing at an alarming rate due to development, overgrazing, ploughing or by herbicide and fertiliser usage.
Although the prime purpose of a churchyard is not wildlife conservation, efforts to conserve the habitat are very worthwhile and much can be achieved. Hethel churchyard is kept as a Conservation Area (while allowing relatives to keep areas of recent graves short, if they wish). The grassland management is aimed at maintaining and enhancing the churchyard’s wildflower diversity and abundance, while a central path and mown swathe allow visitors to explore, look for invertebrates and see the smaller, sometimes overlooked plants.
If the grass was mown regularly, delicate wildflowers could not survive, so the churchyard is mown in the manner of a traditional hay meadow: once a year at the end of summer. The cuttings are raked off to maintain the nutrient-poor environment preferred by wildflowers and to discourage coarser grasses and plants such as nettles and hogweed. Herbage removal also prevents early flowering species from being suppressed by a mat of dead grass from the previous year.
Wymondham Nature Group (WyNG) are enthusiastic partners in the management of the churchyard. Fuelled by tea and cakes, WyNG and church volunteers spend several afternoons each August raking and carting. Over 25 years, this regime has facilitated an increase in the number of pyramidal orchids from around six to over four hundred, indicating what can be achieved on a local scale to promote biodiversity. In recognition, the church won the churchyards category of the Norfolk Community Biodiversity Awards in 2014. With the help of Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s designer and the generosity of a parishioner, the PCC has just installed an interpretation board to help visitors identify flowers and other wildlife and to learn about the scheme and its benefits.
The quiet location of the church makes it and the churchyard a place of peace and contemplation, enjoyed by occasional and regular visitors alike, with the additional benefit of a magnificent array of flowers, lichens, butterflies and other wildlife and the promotion of biodiversity.
This article is from...
Articles in this issue...
The goose is getting fat. Are you prepared?
Christmas time encourages more than double the regular number of people to attend services in our churches, so why do we need to do anymore to reach out to the community?More
Finding solutions for bats and church buildings
Bats can be found in most historic churches in England, often in such small numbers that they go unnoticed.More
Going for Growth in Eaton
Last year, 2018, was a very special year for St Andrew’s Eaton: the 25th Anniversary of the consecration of our new church building, and also the 700th Anniversary of the arrival of the first known vicar.More
PCC Away Days – Time to take the long view
John F Kennedy, visiting the NASA space centre, needed a comfort break – and then got lost.More
Community Library in a Nissen Hut
In 2005 the church here in Sea Palling decided to upgrade a WW2 Nissen Hut to use for all manner of events.More
Village Car Scheme is a ‘God Send’
The Ludham Village Car Scheme (LVCS), suggested by a previous incumbent, is now in its 8th year.More
Yare Valley Churches tackles social isolation
Over recent years in Broadland there have been improvements to the provision that many communities offer for the elderly, particularly those who are living alone.More
Conservation at Hemblington
Churchyards are a sanctuary for our hard-pressed wildlife.More
Engaging with our local school through wildlife survey
In common with most country churchyards, All Saints’ in Stibbard has its fair share of wildlife.More
Norfolk Wildlife Trust Churchyard Conservation Scheme
Norfolk was historically rich in lowland meadows and the beautiful and diverse displays of wildflowers that this ancient habitat supports.More