The Churchyard Project

Maintaining an area the size of the churchyard is a major undertaking, complicated by the historical distribution of the graves and the need to adhere to diocesan regulations. The focus has had to be on that section of the churchyard where the graves are located, resulting in the partial abandonment of the area at the top end which has become overgrown, allowing brambles, nettles and creeping thistles to thrive. An overflowing compost bin and the necessary presence of a particularly unsightly skip further increase the unattractiveness of this area, now so near to where the current graves are sited. Despite this proximity, it is estimated that it will be at least a further 8 years before the churchyard is fully taken up by graves.

The PCC have now approved the creation of a wildflower meadow in this section of the churchyard. The project will also entail rearrangement of the compost site and the building of screens, covered by climbing plants, to hide the skip and compost bins. In addition, the opportunity will be taken to plant quantities of bluebells and wild daffodils in other sections of the churchyard and to further achieve biodiversity by installing some bird boxes in the existing trees and building a bug habitat pile. The project is to be managed by Stroud Valleys Project which has outstanding experience in working with communities to enhance the environment, including the creation of a beautiful wildflower bank at the Bisley Road Cemetery.

PCC's approval is conditional upon securing external funding and recruiting a volunteer working party of 8 people prepared to work one day a month for a year, starting in March 2015. Participation in the working party represents a wonderful opportunity to contribute to a rewarding project for the benefit of the Church and for the Minchinhampton community as a whole as access to the churchyard is available from the car park area on the Common via the kissing gate. It is hoped that the school will also be involved in an appropriate way.

If you are attracted by the thought of participating in this envisaged transformation of the churchyard and would like more information, please leave your name with Christine in the Church Office and I will be in touch in the latter part of November. Leaving your name at this stage in no way implies a commitment on your part. I anticipate that members of the working party will learn new skills, will enjoy a strong sense of fellowship in working with a small group of like-minded people, and will not be asked to carry out any task that they will find physically onerous.

Regular updates on the progress of the project will be included in the Parish Magazine.

Gerry Robbins