Churchyard Information Sign 3 - The Living Churchyard
This board gives information about:
- Churchyard flowers
- Veteran trees in the churchyard
- The heritage fruit orchard
- Churchyard birds
- Lichens in the churchyard
"The land you walk upon, the miracle of fresh water and the glories of nature are all sacred gifts; they are the other Book of Revelation of the Creator and the meaning of creation itself. They should be respected, treasured and protected, because they protect us in return"
Martin Palmer: Sacred Land
The protected space for wildlife, flora and fauna that the churchyard has offered over the centuries, means that it is home to some of the oldest living things in Britain - trees. Their sacred significance can be found in both pre-Christian and Christian Britain.
The common Yew is a native of the British Isles and the earliest fossil record dates from 140 million years ago. The yew has been seen as sacred by people long before Christianity, possibly because of its extraordinary ability to survive. Yew branches have been found in both Neolithic and Christian burial sites as symbols of life after death. Many churches with ancient yews were built near standing stones or stone circles.
The Oak and Ash were also sacred to many ancient peoples. Tall oaks, sometimes split by lightning, were associated with Zeus, or Thor the god of thunder. Some parishes still have a Gospel oak at which the Gospel is read at Rogationtide. The ash was seen as protective and is often found near holy wells.
There are thirty Western Red Cedars in the churchyard, and one Cedar of Lebanon to the east of the church. In was in the nineteenth century that non-native species such as the cedar were introduced.
A Walnut on the east side of the Garden of Hope was planted in the memory of Dr Cotton (see signpost number 4). The walnut was introduced to the British Isles around 1400 and has since become naturalised.
you who are in the wind,
that breathes on the sea,
and the waves of the ocean;
the seal on the rocks;
the lark in the heavens;
the rays of the sun;
and the glittering rocks in the valley;
you who are in the whole of creation
and in your loved ones,
we give you thanks and offer praise.
(The Society of Our Lady of the Isles)