Caring for God’s Acre, (CfGA) the national charity supporting the conservation of burial sites is promoting its Cherishing Churchyards Week from 4th to the 12th June by holding a special event in South Shropshire
On Centenary Sunday, 5th June, 11am to 1pm, CfGA who is based in Craven Arms will be setting an example to the rest of the county with its 3.5 mile easy riverside walk from one churchyard to another along the River Onny. The title of the walk is ‘Two Churchyards, Two Weirs, One Riverside Walk’.
Sue Cooper Manager of Caring for God’s Acre said “As the charity, which helps people throughout the country organise activities for Cherishing Churchyards Week, we are duty-bound to set an example.”
Fortunately, Craven Arms has two churchyards. Both contain memorials and graves which invoke the richest and most poignant stories. At more or less the midpoint of the Centenary of the First World War, our guide, Keith Pybus, will concentrate on the memorials to local people.
In Stokesay Churchyard there are the three graves of Craven Arms’ most tragic family. It lost two sons on the Western Front and then in the aftermath to the war, three more members died of the flu pandemic within a single week in February 1919.
In the church there are stained glass windows to ‘Shropshire’s pioneer aviator and the family grave in the churchyard where Lt Edward Hotchkiss is buried, killed on military manoeuvres in September 1912.
Keith feels both stories are surpassed by perhaps the least well known. “The War Memorial lychgate at Halford has been somewhat ‘marooned’ by time and traffic changes. However, even if you should stumble on it, the love story which lies behind its construction remains a mystery. Mrs Biggs, daughter of the local vicar, married a railway fireman. He rose to Regimental Sergeant Major in a Royal Engineers Railway Operating Company but died of malaria in Salonika just before the end of the war. Join the walk to find out more and also hear from Sue Cooper, CfGA Manager about the plants and animals, which make burial sites ‘Living Sanctuaries’
Cost £5 CfGA Members £3