Ecology

The four acres of churchyard which extend around the church of St Mary of Charity are of great ecological value.

An approach to management is followed which seeks to respect the needs of the many user groups, whilst allowing the maximum possible diversity of habitats or wildlife, The churchyard has been for centuries, a place of reflection an spirituality. That prime use of the churchyard continues with the recently established Garden of Remembrance.

Visitors are requested to be sensitive to the needs of all who come to spend time in this special place. A variety of management strategies are followed, which you can find out more about by downloading the leaflet on this page.

At various times of the year a visitor might expect to discover:

Areas of short grass which provide a good feeding environment for Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Robins and Starlings. Cuttings may be left on the grass to help feed it. Such areas provide a source of flies for Dunnocks, Pied Wagtails, Chaffinches, Blue Tits and other birds. Green Woodpeckers visit looking for ants.

Several banks of brambles, which are managed to provide Blackberries which are eaten by Blackbirds, warblers and by other birds, whilst the seeds are eaten by Bullfinches and Greenfinches. The bramble banks form nesting sites for Wrens and warblers. The flowers provide a source of nectar for butterflies.

Ivy, which is allowed to remain on walls and some monuments, providing nesting for a variety of birds. It is particularly good for Holly Blue butterflies, which deposit their eggs on unopened flowers.

Many species of bird, including Blackbird, Thrush, Robin, Tree Creeper, Wren, Green Woodpecker, Starling, House Martin, Swift, Swallow…. Bats live in and around the churchyard. Slow worms are seen regularly and there are wild bees in one of the mature ash trees. There are many old but active anthills in the lightly managed areas.

Tall grass in the lightly managed areas, which provides cover for many vertebrates and invertebrates and is ideal for various butterflies including Small-, Large- and Essex-Skipper butterflies.

Thistles, which are left standing and appreciated by Painted Lady butterflies and, when seed is set, by Goldfinches.

Wood piles, which provide attractive habitats for various insects, particularly Stag Beetles. Mosses and fungi grow abundantly in the autumn. Other insects attractive to birds also thrive on the decaying timber.

Nettles, which are managed to provide food plants and habitats for Peacock, Red Admiral, Comma and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies as well as for Bullfinches.