First-time entrant in Devon CPRE’s Best Churchyard Competition scoops first prize in the annual awards

This is the sixth year of the competition. Once again the two judges, Ivan Buxton and Devon CPRE director Penny Mills, travelled the length and breadth of the county visiting the diverse entries. Entrants are marked on a range of criteria including their initiatives to encourage wildlife (for example, installing bird or bat boxes, bug hotels, hedgehog houses and ponds) and make peaceful spots for people to pause and appreciate nature.

But it’s not a competition to see who has the most bird boxes or benches. Other ways to encourage wildlife, for example, include sensitive mowing and composting regimes and the maintenance of trees and hedgerows. 

Head Judge, Devon CPRE trustee Ivan Buxton, praised St Michael’s saying, “It was one of the first churchyards we went to this year and our visit happened to coincide with a day when volunteers were working in the churchyard. We were extremely impressed with everything they had done and their enthusiasm was second to none.”

Devon CPRE’s Penny Mills said: “We have thoroughly enjoyed visiting all the 2023 entries, including many new ones. It's been wonderful to see how Devon's churchyards have evolved and improved since we started this competition six years ago. With such a high standard, it’s been a tough job deciding the winners this year and so we’ve made some additional awards in 2023 because so many entries have been so good.

“Devon's churchyards are often at the heart of communities and their upkeep and maintenance rely on the hard work of volunteers. We hope our annual awards go some way towards recognising all they do and saying thank you.”

Special certificates awarded to: All Saints, East Budleigh - Exemplary Award for Consistently High Achievement, Gulliford Burial Ground, Lympstone, Most Original Entry, St. Swithun’s, Woodbury,- Excellence

Certificates of Merit went to: St Peter's, Dalwood, Colyton Cemetery, St Mary & St Peter's, Salcombe Regis and St James the Great, Talaton.