Churchyard Nature Note with Andrew Tompsett

June 2015

The Living Churchyard Project In Illogan some 20 years On

Our Cornish churchyards silently display the very essence and variance of our unique western county.      Lichens, the true indicators of clean air, abound;  our flora and fauna testify to their individuality by location.       St. Illogan churchyard holds particular interest for me because, not only is it one of our Cornwall’s largest,  but it is so well used and appreciated by all the community.      Dog walkers, parents with children and the surrounding residents regularly tread the many paths that radiate from the church.  As a visitor, you are seldom alone for long, as you explore the different areas.

Congratulations go to David Glasson and his team who stoutly struggle with the mammoth task of maintenance.   The sheer size of this expanse of abundant, verdant, landscape is somewhat daunting.     Ivy-clad walls and numerous trees; lush damp growth; bramble areas, yes (but mostly tamed);  lawn-cut spaces near the church, and the neat War Graves area;  ant-hills, wood-piles and compost areas;  the little wildlife information signs;   that famous grave of Thomas Merritt;   so many places to explore.

Illogan has been involved in the Living Churchyards Project for many years, and over that time there have been many improvements;  in 1997 the school were involved in a planting scheme near the adjacent woods.   Recently the paths have been improved, and I am sure much appreciated by the many users.

The Living Churchyard Project operates in many counties and here in Cornwall we have some churches that have really developed ideas, all in ways that suit their particular region.  It is always interesting to visit other Projects to get ideas, and St Just in Penwith,  Mylor on the Fal river,  Pillaton in East Cornwall,  Golant near Fowey,  are just a few.    They have all tackled the idea of managing their churchyards for the best for nature by their different approaches.  I would encourage the saints at Illogan to perhaps provide more information for visitors, and to think of ways to involve that surrounding community.   It could be on how the churchyard developed through the years;  information about memorials;  maps and charts;  something about bees;   all sorts of ideas ?

I can lend you a Display Board promoting the Churchyard Scheme,  perhaps you could have a coffee morning or even an outdoor happening !

Best wishes to you all.

Robert Moor,  Co-ordinator, Living Churchyard Project for Truro Diocese and Cornwall Wildlife Trust.

Volunteers to think about the further community involvement as suggested would be very welcome.

Thank you Robert for your long standing interest and enthusiasm, not forgetting the practical machinery trials in the early days! – Andrew