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24 Hours in the Churchyard

23rd August 2019

A guest blog by Julie Howarth from St Editha’s Church, Church Eaton, Staffordshire.

On 15th June, in St Editha’s churchyard, we undertook a bold project as part of ‘Love Your Burial Ground’ week in conjunction with the project run by Caring for God’s Acre.

Jacqui Hodgkinson and myself pitched camp behind the church at 10a.m. on Saturday morning and set up our stall – a day and night’s worth of activities for all ages to celebrate our churchyard and to connect with the community. Luckily, it was market day in Church Eaton, so after shopping and breakfast at the market in the Institute, visitors made their way over to see what we were doing and to have a chat and a look around.

We had the most amazing day chatting to visitors, taking walks around with people knowledgeable in flora, fauna and even the 150 species of U.K. dandelion! We spotted and logged 57 varieties of creature and following a visit by knowledgeable friends, a list was later made of 42 different wildflowers in our churchyard, all proof that our burial ground is home to a vast variety of species of flora and fauna and an essential part of our local environment.

During the day, using binoculars and cameras, lard, cheese, bird seed, sticks, porridge oats and a variety of other stocks, we managed to photograph and log our visitors, make feeding stations for the feathered visitors, spider web traps, memory cards for the day, ladybird hotels and much more. We welcomed during the day a local amateur photographer who took hundreds of shots at different times of the day and night and we look forward to perhaps an exhibition of photos at a later date.

Another part of our amazing day involved an outdoor service at 3p.m. outside with more than 12 of us singing songs and hymns about nature as well as reading poems followed by homemade scones, tea and coffee- what a fabulous act of celebration and community.

Following our night time vigil, the 8a.m. service on Sunday morning was really well attended by regulars and other supporters which began outside in the churchyard and continued in church, all rounded off by warm bacon rolls and tea and coffee after the service. Following this, we scouted around for the last time and gathered our things and at 10 a.m. on Sunday 16th June, we completed our 24 hour vigil and what a superb time it was- time out to observe, listen (to the dawn chorus), meet, chat and share. An unforgettable day when we learned so much more about our churchyard to take us forward into the future planning – mission accomplished!

Please see our displays in church and by the shed.

Thank God for our beautiful world.