Search begins for Devon's best kept churchyard in 2021

East Budleigh churchyard which won the award in 2019

East Budleigh churchyard which won the award in 2019 - Credit: CPRE Devon

Churches in Devon are being urged to enter an annual content celebrating the best churchyards in the county. 

Through the contest, Devon CPRE looks to celebrate the volunteers helping to maintain and ‘green up’ Devon’s churchyards.  

During lockdown, many churchyards have become real sanctuaries for the local community - not just for churchgoers. In some places, they are the only public space people can walk to for exercise and to observe nature. 

This is the fourth year the Devon countryside charity has held its churchyard awards and it’s hoping to receive more entries than ever by the end of March. 

Penny Mills, Director of Devon CPRE, says, “Devon has hundreds of beautiful churchyards and they’ve really come into their own during the challenging circumstances of 2020. Residents the length and breadth of Devon have appreciated their local churchyard like never before, so we want to really celebrate these special places in 2021 and celebrate the people who look after them - because they are all volunteers and they do a fantastic job.” 

The judges are not seeking the most pristine or manicured churchyards. They are looking for those which are well-managed to provide a peaceful haven for people and wildlife.  

Each entry is visited by the judges and assessed on a range of criteria, including the measures put in place to increase biodiversity. 

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CPRE Devon trustee and fellow churchyard judge Ivan Buxton has been impressed by the standard of entries year on year 

He said: “We were particularly impressed by the careful management of these ancient burial grounds to create sanctuaries for the living. Measures to encourage wildlife and biodiversity have included bug hotels, mini-beast trails, ponds, bird boxes, composting areas, wildflower meadows and even gardens producing fruit, vegetables and herbs for parishioners to enjoy.” 

Because of Covid-19 restrictions, last year’s competition had to be run differently to previous years.  

The judges waited until after Lockdown travel restrictions were lifted in the summer to begin their on-site inspections.  

There was no official prize-giving ceremony in 2020 and this year’s competition will be conducted along similar lines. 

The deadline for entries is March 31. For more information visit ww.devoncpre.org.uk 

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