A VOLUNTEER team answered the call of villagers to help look after its church graveyard as future maintenance is being discussed.

More than 20 Dartmoor Preservation Association (DPA) volunteers and some villagers, rolled up their sleeves to maintain the grounds of Princetown Churchyard.

The response came after a group of residents formed to ensure the churchyard remains open as a current burial ground and a place which people are proud of, including relatives of those buried there.

The Princetown Churchyard Maintenance Group was formed late last year after the graveyard at St Michaels and all Angels (closed for regular worship) became untidy, with overgrown hedges and grass and which the parish council and local priest admitted was causing distress to relatives.

A spokesman for the DPA said: ‘We took part because we are committed to conserving the heritage of the moor. 

‘The church is a beautiful, community asset, rich with fascinating history and the final resting place of many still remembered in Princetown and the moor. 

‘The hedge boundaries and established trees are havens for birdlife and wildlife throughout the year. We cut back invasive brambles, shrubs and lank grass and cleared all the paths which should make it easier for the villagers to maintain in the future.’

Mark Williams chair of the team, said: ‘The team achieved so much in one day, and the feedback from the village is tremendous. We will carry on this valuable work in the future to enhance the promotion of wildlife and plant life, but also and importantly to respect those at rest in the churchyard.’

The ongoing maintenance of the churchyard is the subject of discussions between Princetown Churchyard Maintenance Group (PCMG) and West Dartmoor Mission Community after Dartmoor Forest Parish Council could not pay for the work they have been doing for several years. The Parochial Church Council is responsible for the up-keep. Gregg Manning, parish council chairman, and PCMG member, said: ‘They worked really hard. There’s still a lot of work to do but they have given us a very good start.

‘Unfortunately, the church are still undecided as to the route they want to take with the longer term future of maintaining.’

He said the PCMG was already relieving financial pressure on the church, and had raised a bit of money and recruited more villagers.

Rev Andrew Thomas, rector of the West Dartmoor Community, confirmed the church parish council was continuing discussions with the PCMG on the future amid a cost of living crisis.