An afternoon with Caring for God’s Acre and Dr. George Peterken OBE
Over 65 people filled the Great Hall at Bishops Palace, Hereford, for the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the conservation charity Caring for God’s Acre and to hear an exciting talk given by respected ecologist Dr. George Peterken.
Caring for God’s Acre (CfGA) is a charity concerned with the conservation of churchyards and burial grounds, of all denominations. It started as a small charity in the Hereford Diocese but is now an established charity working across the U.K., with H.R.H The Prince of Wales as the President. This AGM saw the appointment of a new chairman, Colin Wright, one of the vice presidents for the Shropshire Ornithological Society (SOS), and a new trustee Caroline Uff, an ecologist with the National Trust.
The highlight of the afternoon was the talk given by esteemed ecologist Dr. George Peterken, on the topic of his newly published book Meadows (British Wildlife).
From an ecological point of view, Peterken emphasised the dramatic loss of meadowland, with 97% having vanished since the 1930’s. He spoke of the important role churchyards hold in meadow conservation, as they are a sanctuary for rare and uncommon species of meadow plants, acting as a reservoir and one of few places where old meadowland can still be found.
His inspiring talk was illustrated by beautiful photographs of meadows from around Britain such as hay meadows of the Yorkshire Dales and Shetlands and acid, or moorland, meadows of West Wales.
Keen to express the importance of meadow conservation from a non scientific perspective, Peterken’s talk also focused on the cultural importance of meadows and the folk memory of high summer, colour and romance that surrounds them. They were places where local men and women laboured – men scything and women raking hay – at a beautiful time of year. The cultural heritage of meadows is also reflected in art and poetry, such as Ivor Gurney’s Severn Meadows.
Caring for God’s Acre is a charity with a membership. To become member and support the valuable work of the charity phone 01588 673041 or go to www.caringforgodsacre.org.uk
There are over 12,000 burial grounds across England and Wales and it is well documented that they are a rich source of wildlife, often functioning as a sanctuary for flora and fauna which are rare and endangered elsewhere in the U.K. From song thrushes and swifts to hedgehogs, newts and slow worms, the biodiversity of these areas also encompasses species of international importance, for instance, Yew trees and bumblebees. They are also important for their historic man-made structures such as monuments and memorials, boundary walls, lychgates, preaching crosses and mausalea. This varied interest makes them ideal places for learning and for community activity such as practical conservation work and recording of the stonework and wildlife habitats. Caring for God’s Acre produces a special Churchyard and Burial Ground Action pack full of useful information on a wide range of topics to help people with their local sites. The pack can be downloaded from the website free of charge or purchased as a pack from Caring for God’s Acre.
Editors' note - For further information contact Sue Cooper, Caring for God's Acre, 11 Drover's House, Craven Arms, Shropshire SY9 5DF. Tel: 01588 673041.
Out of hours Tel: 01588 630037 Mobile: 07891470607