A group of volunteers who are keeping the grounds of a village church tidy and ecologically friendly have received a National Lottery grant of £2,400 to support their work.

Princetown Church’s grounds maintenance team - called Gardening the Grounds - comprise enthusiastic volunteers, chaired by Hazel Williams, who meet every month in the churchyard. 

Hazel said: “We are committed to managing our churchyard to improve its biodiversity. Churchyards are sanctuaries for wildlife. To enable this we are introducing bug hotels, nest boxes and homes for hedgehogs. We are also allowing some grassed areas to flourish with wildflowers.’’

The main grass paths are being cut regularly, maintaining a respectful neatness to frequently visited graves. There has been a beautiful succession of wildflowers to be seen over the year, particularly from January to May. These include snowdrops, daffodils, primroses, crocus, bluebells and more. To allow these to multiply, the seed must be allowed to ripen, sometimes until July.

Hazel said that although some might find a graveyard looking a bit like a hay meadow disrespectful to those buried there, the group mows some of the churchyard regularly throughout the year and leaves other parts with the most bulbs until the seed ripens in July. This takes into consideration all views.

Hazel added: “We hope that  people understand that this means the churchyard will not always look neatly manicured.  If anyone is hesitant about this approach, they are welcome to visit the churchyard and enjoy wildflowers which this policy allows to flourish.”

The group also plans to install benches so visitors can rest and enjoy the peace and plan for a CCTV nest box for swifts to showcase wildlife.