The key purpose of the scheme is to celebrate the hard work and loving care that goes into maintaining the churchyards and church gardens right across the diocese.
During the months of May, June, July and August each churchyard will be visited by three independent judges who will look at many different elements of the churchyard or garden. Please see below the list of criteria considered during the visits. The judges meet in September and the notes from each of the three judges’ visits are compared and discussed, and certificates are awarded. It is hoped that this year we can have a garden party in September to which all volunteers and helpers are welcome, and then a presentation morning on a Saturday in October or early November.
As you will appreciate, each churchyard/garden faces different challenges, made even more difficult with the devastating impact of Covid-19. We are aware that for many of our churches, maintenance is often dependent on a small band of volunteers. Some churches have written development plans for their churchyards which provide a good understanding of the context, challenges and aspirations for that churchyard. It is helpful if these can be shared with the judges.
Please do complete the entry form and return to Alison Primrose directly by email at email@example.com or post to Alison Primrose, Hill House, Vicarage Lane, Bednall, Stafford ST17 0SE. She can also be contacted on (o) 01785 748976 (m) 07794 515142
The closing date for applications this year is 10 April 2023.
Criteria considered by the judges when visiting each churchyard:
- Provision of information – including welcome, general information, notices up to date and details about the churchyard, policies, guidance on care of graves, species information, wildlife provisions
- Access – including main and secondary paths, steps, gates, hand rails if appropriate
- Grass management – including how are grass cuttings managed, areas of different grass lengths, information about mowing regimes
- Management of trees and bushes – including safety and labelling where appropriate
- Condition of boundaries – safe walls and fences, hedge cutting where required
- Care of graves and memorials – including edging, removal of saplings etc from old graves, removal of dead flowers, Christmas wreaths etc, implementation of churchyard policy, information about significant graves
- Area for interment of ashes – tidy, well cared for, elements that contribute to reflection
- Place to sit – maintenance of benches, provision of seats in different locations
- Flower beds and planters – including variety of planting, evidence of care, impact of colour
- Provisions to promote wildlife – including nesting boxes, wild flowers, log piles, bug hotels, different grass lengths, water, bat boxes etc
- Community involvement – evidence of opportunities for community engagement, such work days, vegetable plot, species record
- Development plans and aspirations – displayed or shared in some way, including consideration of providing a place for spiritual / quiet prayer and reflection, source of local social history, conservation and a haven for wildlife.