Help is being sought to maintain a historic Dartmoor village churchyard which is getting overgrown, distressing some of the relatives of people buried there.

Councillors concerned at the rising costs of maintaining Princetown Churchyard are seeking financial support to help share the burden of cutting the grass and keeping the graves tidy.

Relatives and friends who visit the graves to pay their respects have also complained about how untidy the plots are looking with the fast-growing grass needing more regular cutting.

However, the situation of the costs and who is responsible is complicated by the fact that Princetown Churchyard is run by Walkhampton Parochial Church Council under a past agreement with the Church of England, but Dartmoor Forest Parish Council has the duty to pay for and maintain the churchyard.

The Rev Andrew Thomas, Rector of the West Dartmoor Mission Community, which includes Walkhampton, said: ‘The situation is that the church parish council is currently in discussions with the Dartmoor Forest Parish Council on working out a way forward for managing the churchyard at Princetown.

‘The length of the grass and the difficulties it has caused in allowing family members to access the graves of loved ones has caused a great deal of distress and for this we are truly very sorry.

‘In these financially straitened times we are doing all we can to work together to find the best solution.

‘We will inform parishioners as best we can and as soon as possible when a decision has been reached.’

The churchyard surrounds the now redundant Anglican Church of St Michael and All Angels in Princetown which is run by the Historic Churches Trust.

Although St Michael’s church is closed for regular worship, and is maintained by the Churches Conservation Trust, the churchyard remains open for burials.

Cllr Greg Manning, DPC chairman, said: ‘Rising inflation means that the council does need help with the funding of the maintenance of the churchyard.

‘The volunteers do a wonderful job, but there’s a limit to what can be done.’

The churchyard is treated as a community asset, because it is important people can still be buried in their community.

Prisoners of war from the French wars and American War of Independence are among those buried there.

Dartmoor Forest Parish Council (DPC) ensures that the churchyard is kept in good order together with the goodwill of volunteers.

Recent work includes repairing a wall and restoring the churchyard gates, much of it relying on the goodwill of volunteers.