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St Mary’s Churchyard is ‘closed’ – i.e. no more burials are taking place, and North Somerset Council is now legally responsible for its management (sub-contracted to Dignity). Dignity cuts the grass ten times a year and monitors the safety of the trees. Our work aims to provide as much wildlife habitat as is possible within the churchyard and provide a haven for wildlife, an educational resource and an uplifting space for visitors.
We have planted trees, shrubs and wild flowers and negotiated the retention of some uncut edges to provide a better environment for wildlife. We have raised money for bird and bat boxes for the churchyard and a number of compost bins in which we sometimes see slow worms. The churchyard is good for bats as it provides good foraging in the centre of the village. YACWAG has put up bat boxes and regular monitoring has discovered rare species of bat, like the Lesser Horseshoe and Brown Long-eared together with Serotine and Pipistrelle.
There is a small burial ground in current use on the south side which is owned, organised and managed by Yatton Parish Council. This does not come within the Living Churchyard Project.
St Mary's Church has been called the "Cathedral of the Moors" due to its grandeur for a village of Yatton's size. Its tranquil churchyard is home to mature trees, wildflowers, and a rich variety of animal life.
Working in partnership
YACWAG supports the Friends of St Mary’s Churchyard in enhancing the churchyard under the national scheme ‘The Living Churchyard Project’. This local project began in 1999 at the suggestion of a North Somerset Council officer who at that time had the responsibility for churchyard management.
As ever the aim is to provide a wildlife haven in the centre of the village by creating habitat for wildlife. Sometimes we achieve this by assisting contractors with tasks in return for them leaving some wild areas. It is also the intention to create a space that is soothing for people visiting graves and educational for those passing through. We sometimes show the wildlife to the local Brownies and other groups. It is a ‘closed’ churchyard with no new burials and is managed by contractors on behalf of North Somerset Council.
YACWAG members have been involved from the start and irregular workparties are held. All are welcome to come and help. No particular skills or experience are needed, and tools are provided. On the fourth Saturday of each month refreshments are provided at the church coffee morning, which gives a welcome break (and nice cake). Please join us. See the News section for the next workparty. You don’t have to be a churchgoer to help – it’s a purely community venture – and the benefits to wildlife are significant. We work at a relaxed pace and enjoy a social time in very pleasant surroundings.
The site attracts a rich variety of wildlife, including insects, wildflowers, small mammals, bats, and owls, all of which you can find further information upon by viewing our wildlife section. The Churchyard houses numerous bird and bat boxes, which we monitor, as well as compost bins which attract slow worms. We have also planted trees, shrubs and wild flowers.
The Community Owls Project under the Hawk and Owl Trust has erected a tawny owlbox in the western portion of the churchyard; 3rd Yatton Guides have donated and put up a bat box; Yatton Cubs have made and put up bird boxes.
Thanks to a grant from the Co-op Community Fund,
three replacement trees were planted in the churchyard in January 2017.
An umbrella organisation called Caring for God's Acre exists to support projects looking after wildlife in churchyards. You may also be interested in the Facebook page called Yatton Living Churchyard Project.
Church of St Mary the Virgin
Car parking: the church has free parking, otherwise nearby on-street parking.