Living churchyards for Mells and Vobster

At the start of lockdown, the Church of England’s policy prevented the mowing of C of E graveyards across the country. This has enabled the wild flowers to flourish amidst the long grass, encouraging pollinators such as butterflies and bees in our churchyards. Orchids appeared in Vobster, and in both churchyards there was birdsfoot trefoil, lady’s bedstraw and many other wild flower varieties.

Orchid in Vobster churchyard

The Parochial Church Council (PCC) have had many positive comments on this development, and now the C of E, having lifted the ban on mowing churchyards, has encouraged us to explore the Ecochurch programme and create a Living Churchyard – a great name for a place where ‘biodiversity becomes the variety of life on Earth’ as the C of E calls it. This is also one of the C of E’s five marks of mission which is to care for God’s creation. This ecumenical video called Nature in his Name helps us to understand our part in creation. 

To bring us up to date, now the wildflowers have gone to seed, everything is being cut back and, over the winter, the PCC will be planning our approach to this, consulting with experts in the field as well as the local community. 

It is appreciated that there needs to be a balance of mowing around the church and the graves which will continue. Many graves are beautifully tended by families and, as long as objects such as flowers are kept to the graves themselves, mowing will continue to complement this. In addition, we will be mowing pathways to allow folk to walk through and around the churchyard. 

This project will take some time to develop, but the PCC will post news about our plans on the church website, together with links to Church of England and other resources, including videos of how other churches around the country have created Living Churchyards

Links: find out more

Church of England biodiversity page

Ecochurch in the South West

Caring for God’s Acre

Video resources:

BBC One Countryfile, 19 July 2020, featured Caring for God’s Acre in Shropshire (starts around 40 minutes in)

Nature in his Name: an ecumenical video about the theology that lies behind biodiversity.

St Mary’s Churchyard, Eastbourne

St Edward's Church, Eggbuckland, Plymouth – A Radio Devon report