Rare species flourish in a ‘Living Churchyard’

Flitwick graveyard project to conserve rare species
Flitwick graveyard project to conserve rare species

Volunteers from the community are working together to help rare species flourish in a ‘Living Churchyard’.

The churchyard in Flitwick was a hive of activity when St Peter and St Paul’s had a working party in its very special grounds on Thursday, May 12. The graveyard has not seen any new burials for a century and is now managed as what is termed a ‘Living Churchyard’.

Church member Helen Butler said: “The name might seem a bit odd – we tend to think of churchyards as places for those who have died.

“But Flitwick churchyard is managed for two things - respect for those who have died, and the flourishing of nature at the same time.

“This is a really important site for wildlife. It’s the sort of wildflower grassland which is now very rare.

“We have some varieties of plants here which aren’t found anywhere else in Bedfordshire.”

The church is a beautifully tranquil spot, full of bird song, and often sees animal visitors from deer to slow worms.

Volunteers from the church joined forces with Tesco employees under their community scheme to make sure this special site is as inviting to humans as it is to wildlife.

They filled over a dozen large sacks of cuttings and dead wood, as well as creating new log piles to create homes for small animals.

The Vicar, Rev Lucy Davis, said: “It’s wonderful to have so many people working together in this special place. Not only Tesco, but Jewson’s and the town council have helped to make today possible.”

The church sees care for nature and for the rare species found in their grounds as part of their work and ministry.

Rev Lucy added: “This is a place where we see God’s creation in all its beauty and variety, and we join in the work of sustaining that abundant life.”

Flitwick’s Living Churchyard is open to the public every day throughout the year.

The wildflowers are at their best in July and August, but there is something to see whenever you visit.

St Peter and St Paul’s Church dates from Norman times and it is believed a thatched wooden building dedicated to St Peter stood on the site before that.

The church was gradually extended and received major restoration in the Victorian era. The Friends of Flitwick Church was formed and further restoration has taken place since the 19th century. Visit www.flitwickchurch.org