Clifford’s Mesne: St Peter’s
About this churchyard
St Peter’s church is the focal point of Clifford’s Mesne, a small village near the market town of Newent in north-west Gloucestershire. The church was built in 1882 on an area of common land (some of the common survives, adjoining the churchyard to the north, and is used for the village fete and other events). The area enclosed for church and churchyard was only 0.4ha (1 acre) but the shallow, free-draining soil of this small burial ground supports an astonishing diversity of grassland and heathland plants – over 100 species at the last count.
The few patches of deeper, more fertile soil produce bulky, grass-dominated vegetation but much of the churchyard is remarkably ‘unproductive’ with finer-leaved grasses such as sheep’s fescue, quaking grass and heath grass and high frequencies of herbs which provide flowering interest from March – October. Early spring sees a profusion of violets, with a few wild daffodils (a speciality of the area), swiftly followed by the flowers of cowslips, spring and glaucous sedges and a few specimens of green-winged orchid. High summer sees good numbers of common-spotted orchid, patches of wild thyme, heather and bird’s-foot-trefoil, giving way to harebells and the delicate flowers of autumn lady’s-tresses in August. Banks of devil’s-bit scabious provide a final flourish in September, but that may not be the end of the colour show for in some autumns the short turf is studded with waxcaps and other grassland fungi.
This abundance of flowers over a long period attracts to the churchyard a high diversity of bees and other pollinating insects. Grassland butterflies and day-flying moths which breed at the site include marbled white, common blue and six-spot burnet.
Management of the churchyard aims to allow ample flowering opportunities whilst maintaining access to graves. Much of the site is not mown until July, simulating a traditional hay cut with all the arisings removed for composting, but prior to this paths are cut through the grassland to the main area of graves. Two steep and species-rich banks to the rear of the church usually are cut just once at the end of the growing season. These days most of the management is undertaken by a local contractor but volunteers continue to play a key role in caring for the site.
There is a Friends of St Peters which was set up for people who like to contribute to the care and upkeep of the church and churchyard but who do not necessarily wish to be part of the regular worship congregation.
- Wildflower areas
- Wildlife haven
- Memorials with famous or infamous connections – the great nephew and family of the first female Abolitionists in America.
- Great for fungi
- Birders paradise
- Lichen haven – on the roof or wall.
- Peaceful space for quiet reflection
- Good accessibility
? Dog friendly – please keep on the lead. All mess should be bagged and put in the black waste bin.
? The main access from the adjoining road is via steps but there is level access via a side gate. The main paths are rolled stone, there are also grass paths.
? There is not a car park but there is on-road parking immediately adjoining.
St Peters Church,
Newent GL18 1JL
Heather Cobby [email protected]
Nell Credland [email protected]
The main access from the adjoining road is via steps but there is level access via a side gate. The main paths are rolled stone, there are also grass paths.
There is a wheelchair-accessible toilet in the churchyard. Information can be found in the church where the key can be found. The church is normally open during the day but currently it is open on Tuesdays and Fridays only due to the Covid 19 pandemic.
An interpretation board is in preparation (August 2020)
In the vestry in the church there is water and a table that can be used for nappy changing.
There are two benches with back and arm rests, also circular seating around a tree trunk without back or arm rests.
Parking & transport
There is not a car park but there is on-road parking immediately adjoining.
The nearest regular bus service is to Newent (Library) 2.5 miles away. Stagecoach buses run approximately hourly to and from Gloucester (services 32/132), and approximately two-hourly to / from Ross-0n-Wye (service 32) and Ledbury (service 132).
Buses operate three days per week (Monday, Wednesday and Thursday) to Clifford’s Mesne, stopping at the Village Hall approximately 100m from the churchyard. Service 676 operates between Much Marcle and Gloucester, via Newent and Clifford’s Mesne, on Mondays and Thursdays. Service 691 operates to / from Newent on Wednesdays. Both services are provided by Newent Shuttle with support from Gloucestershire County Council.
The nearest train stations are at Ledbury (11 miles) and Gloucester (12 miles).
There is a choice of cafes in the town of Newent 2.5 miles north-east.
There is limited information via the village hall website http://www.cliffordsmesnevillagehall.co.uk/