St Thomas à Becket church, serving Framfield, Blackboys and Palehouse Common, is blessed with a wonderful churchyard. To many people whose families live or have lived in the parish, the churchyard is a very special place; somewhere to visit the graves of loved ones or ancestors, a peaceful place for quiet reflection, and perhaps to enjoy the wildlife, especially in spring and summer. Since wildlife in the wider countryside is under increasing pressure from human activity, the fact that the churchyard is protected from development gives a real opportunity to conserve wildlife.
If carefully managed in harmony with the churchyard's original purpose for burial, there need be no conflict between these functions. Indeed for most people, the wild flowers, butterflies, birds, slow worms and other wildlife add interest and a sense of tranquillity to their walk through the churchyard.
But as with any multifunctional site, appropriate planning is necessary for the churchyard to meets all its objectives. The Framfield Parochial Church Council (PCC) has agreed that the onerous task of trying to keep the whole churchyard mown as short grass could be made much simpler, and wildlife could be better protected, by zoning the churchyard according to where its different functions are best served. (A similar approach is now adopted by hundreds of other UK churches. Sussex has many churchyards where wildlife conservation forms part of the management regime, for example Buxted, East Hoathly, Hadlow Down, Steyning, Shoreham, Brighton, Ebernoe, Warburton and Bignor.)
Clearly if the different churchyard zones are to be cared for appropriately, a detailed Management Plan is needed; such a Plan has now been drafted. We realise the final Plan will only work with support not just of church people but also of the wider community, so the Draft Management Plan is posted on this website for you to read, and we welcome your comments and suggestions.
In particular we also welcome any offers of help in putting it into practice. We hope that having a clear Schedule of Work for each month will encourage more of you to volunteer, however little time you can spare (not necessarily every month but preferably regularly, so that work can be planned). We also hope that, as many other churches have discovered, the work parties will be a fun way for people to get to know their local churchyard, meet up with others who care about wildlife, and learn more about conservation.
"Many thanks to all for a sterling effort. At least 15 bulk bags of grass found their way to local cattle." Sally
Firstly many thanks to those who turned out for the last work party on 9 August 2014. Being the holiday season (and also coinciding with the Framfield Show) it took a bit longer than usual but we got it all done eventually - nice job.
The date for the last work party of 2014 was provisionally given as 4th October with 11th as backup. However as the grass still looks fairly short we've decided to make it 11th October, with 18th as backup. Usual arrangements, start any time from 9.00, all welcome even if you can only spare an hour or two. Free lunch available around 12.30. Any offers of 'bring and share' welcome!
We look forward to seeing you then.
The 'backup' dates are in case of poor weather on the first date, or slow progression of the season. If growth is prolific, it may be necessary to move dates. There is now an updated map showing the distribution of Amenity areas and the Conservation Area (which has been slightly reduced this year).
Attached is a pic of those who survived to the end (when I remembered I had my camera.....duh! - SC)
Two photos from Gerry added 20.9.2014:
We are extremely grateful to Raymond for making two magnificent interpretation boards for the churchyard. These explain to visitors how and why it is being managed for amenity and conservation, showing the layout and some of the wildlife people can expect to see.
On 9th April 2011, we started the first phase of Churchyard Management.
Many thanks to all who did a sterling job in the Churchyard - it looks great!
Photos of the action can be viewed here.
(PDF file - requires Adobe Acrobat Reader) -