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  • Susie Culhane

St Swithun's Churchyard Work Diary

Updated: Oct 1, 2020

For a couple of years the idea of managing St Swithun's churchyard to encourage wildflowers and wildlife had been discussed with the Parochial Church Council (PCC) and East Devon District Council (EDDC). Following the success of the Woodbury Wide Awake Festival (WWA) in 2019, the PCC and EDDC agreed to work with the WWA group who offered to take this project on. EDDC would manage the east side of the churchyard, where the more modern graves and the war graves are located and the west side would be allowed to grow with access paths cut through. The rest would be managed by our local group with less frequent mowing. Then Covid 19 hit the country and nothing was done in the churchyard for 3 months.

Churchyard path from Lych gate before mowing (May-June 2020)

Our church warden, Sue Hudson has been keeping a diary of work completed by our wonderful volunteers over the summer:



2nd May: Working party Andy, Susie and Gavin.

17th May: Working party Matt.

Site survey of the churchyard, recording all plants. 85 species recorded and uploaded to iRecord via Devon Biodiversity Records Centre.

Photo credit: Andy Lewis



25th June: EDDC strimmed west side and paths on the east side, although long grass left on the surface

30th June: Working party Andy, Sue, Paul, Peter and John

Two hours spent raking half of the strimmed area on the west side and the paths on the east side. This produced a large amount of grass, some of which was taken to the local recycling site and the rest left in the churchyard with a view to creating compost heaps.

Photo credit Andy Lewis



3rd July: Working group Andy, Susie, Sue, Paul, Peter, John, Gordon and Murrough

Two hours spent raking up the rest of the strimmed area on the east side. Andy scythed areas of the west side that were beginning to collapse. Gordon strimmed areas by the church and church path and created a triangle of mown grass to the north of the church.

The immediate plan is to request that the council mow the west side again as soon as possible, to strim the east side as the grasses are beginning to collapse and for Murrough to create compost areas on the north side of the church.



18th August: Working party Sue and Paul

Most of the Valerian and vegetation cleared from the boundary wall opposite the car parking area. Ivy and wild honeysuckle partially removed from the large tomb by the yew on the north side of the church, revealing an interesting inscription to Richard Wheaton.

Photo above of inscription to Richard Wheaton. We hope to do some research into this person and his family.

Some of the overhanging yew has been pruned (crown-lifted) away from the tomb. Murrough has almost completed the compost bins and the location of the bins has been decided. Later this week weather permitting we will continue to uncover the tomb and remove some of the ivy from the base around the yew tree. Also we will try to dig up the common elder that has started to establish under the yew canopy. We will start to strim the east side of the graveyard starting at the Lych gate and working around towards the yew tree on the east side. The west side has not been mown again by the council, since the first mowing in July.

22nd August: Working party Andy, Murrough, Peter, John, Sue and Paul

The area around the yew tree north of the church has been cleared of ivy and common elder. More ivy was removed from the tomb revealing inscriptions on the side. Compost bins put together and secured. Possibly to paint later. Some vegetation was removed from the path on the east side. Still no work done by council on the west side.


To be continued...


More information on this project:

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