Caring for God’s Acre (CfGA) is a unique charity, which supports the care of churchyards, cemeteries and burial grounds of all kinds, which in themselves are unique places that require specialist help and advice.
These special and sometimes sacred spaces with high community interest are to found in every town, city and country parish across the country. They can be very important historic sites, now well recognised as havens for wildlife. Churchyards, especially, are also part of the attraction offered to visitors. Within their ancient boundaries are contained a great variety of plant and animal life which together with their historic stone structures make them beautiful and interesting places to visit.
The most significant collection of old trees in Europe is in the churchyards of England and Wales where approximately 800 yews with an age of above 500 years have been recorded. Three-quarters of Britain’s ancient yews are found in churchyards and not all have legal protection through Tree Preservation Order status – a situation that a group of organisations including CfGA are seeking to address.
The grassland in old churchyards can also be ‘ancient’ having been both mown and grazed over many centuries resulting in communities of grasses and flowers – ‘hay meadows’ which are now scarce in the wider countryside.
Memorials and monuments
Memorials and monuments of which there is a huge variety, from simple headstones to grandiose, highly decorated structures are particularly rich in history displaying information on subjects from stone quarrying and cutting to fashions in architecture and verse. The epitaphs, inscriptions and symbols – factual, sentimental, moral or sometimes even amusing provide a fascinating insight into the lives of generations past.
Sue Cooper from Caring for God’s Acre said: “I hope that this brief introduction has revealed to you the value and interest of these sites, which are important to so many people for many different reasons. Caring for God’s Acre is the only charity solely dedicated to their conservation and presently we are running a four year Heritage Lottery Project delivering advice, information and support to local communities across England and Wales.”
“CfGA is working in partnership with other like-minded organisations to deliver conferences in different regions, titled ‘The Beautiful Burial ground’. This year there are one-day conferences in Sussex at Haywards Heath on June 14, June 28 at Arnos Vale in Bristol, September 18 in Exeter and later in the year in Dorset.”
Cherishing Churchyards Week
“A special week – Cherishing Churchyards Week, is promoted each year in June. Through this people are supported to run special events for their local community.”
“A Churchyard and Burial Ground Action Pack full of helpful information has been produced and the individual sheets can be downloaded from Caring for God’s Acre website or purchased as a pack. It has information on topics such as the care of grassland, how to keep trees healthy and safe, conserving historic stonework, involving local people as volunteers, health and safety – in fact the pack has 31 topic sheets.”
“CfGA’s practical team known as The Churchyard Task Team is a group of volunteers who come together once a week to help local people with the care of their churchyards. The team helps repair dry stone churchyard walls, makes compost bins, helps with grass cutting and tree and shrub pruning plus many more much needed tasks.”
Caring for God’s Acre is a membership charity and new members are very welcome. The subscription for individuals per year is £20, £25 for couples and £30 for groups. Caring for God’s Acre can be contacted on 01588 673041
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or email email@example.com More information on their website
CfGA – 11 Drover’s House, The Auction Yard, Craven Arms, Shropshire. SY7 9BZ