THE CHURCHYARD

St Giles is proud of the good condition and standard of care of our churchyard, and this is often commented on by visitors and passers by.

The Church employs a contractor to cut the grass and to remove non-compostable rubbish for nine months of the year, but all other tasks except the digging of graves are carried out all year round by volunteers from within the church community - the "Churchyard Team". Because they meet on Tuesdays, they are also referred to as the "Tuesday Team".

The Tuesday Team

The team grew from a handful of retired ‘gentlemen’ who on an entirely ad-hoc basis carried out various tasks in and around St. Giles Church and St. Giles Centre, and in the very early days also at St. Nicholas Church. 

Over a considerable number of years this embryo has evolved into a dedicated volunteer group of retired men and women, numbering over 20, who turn up on Tuesday mornings ready and willing to tackle a variety of jobs, being paid only in coffee and biscuits.



Mostly the activities are now concentrated on the Churchyard at St. Giles, which has greatly increased in size over the years, and the much-loved Garden of Remembrance, but there are also still, from time to time, items inside the Church, and at St. Giles Centre, that require attention.


New members are always welcome to the Team. If you would like to know more why not pop along on a Tuesday morning 9.00am – midday.  It is not all hard work,  see below.


For further information contact John Tinham on 01689 855328.
  

Trees and Hedges

The start of 2014 was very busy for the Churchyard Team. Visitors to the churchyard would have noticed two significant developments.

Firstly, on Boxing Day a large pine tree came down in the churchyard during the high winds. The team cleared away the small branches during January, in readiness for professional tree surgeons to come in and cut up the main trunk for disposal.  Luckily only a very small number of grave monuments were disturbed. Tree surgeons then attended, to cut up the fallen tree, and they also felled and cut up a second tree on the boundary line that was clearly dead.  The photos below show the location before and after the trees had been removed.

 
     
 

Then, also in January,  the boundary hedge between the churchyard and Church Field, planted after the purchase of extra land in 1994, was given a makeover. The hedge had grown considerably, and needed much more attention than the working team could give it. Therefore, it was suggested having it layered. This is a tradition which has been dying out, due to modern mechanical hedge cutting these days.

 

A craftsman by the name of Alan Ashby was engaged to do the work, which took place in January. The Tuesday working team cleared and burnt all the surplus cuttings he produced. The hedge has been completely transformed.  The photos show the hedge as it was in January, and then in October.

 

The cost of this operation was kindly donated by Paul Rason, in memory of his wife Denise who died in 2012, and whose grave is next to the hedge. Paul and his son have said they will help the working team maintain the hedge.


ABOUT ST. GILES CHURCH

Lichens in the Churchyard 

The churchyard at Farnborough , like so many surrounding our parish churches, is a place of peace, history and remembrance. This special atmosphere owes much to the wildlife that makes the churchyard its home.

The plants, birds and insects are most noticeable but there is another group which is easily overlooked and yet by adorning the memorials in shades of yellow, white and grey make a huge contribution to the atmosphere of the graveyard. These are lichens, the endurance specialists of the plant world although strictly speaking they are not plants but a union of simple algae or bacteria capable of producing sugars by photosynthesis which are sheltered within the growing tissue of a fungus which provides the structure that we see as a lichen. Each benefits from the other – a true symbiosis of life.  

A church and its graveyard provide undisturbed substrates on which lichens can grow especially on stone. Remarkably, about one third of the approximately 2000 species of lichen which occur in Britain and Ireland are found in churchyards.  

A recent survey at St Giles found nearly 70 species of lichen. Perhaps the best place to appreciate the variety and beauty of these is on the south side of the church where the oldest memorials are to be found. Most obvious are the yellow orbicular patches of Caloplaca flavescens on the limestone memorials. Stop and look more closely at these and the beautiful orange jam tart-like fruiting bodies can be seen in the centre. Another limestone headstone is covered in the half-moon shaped outlines of one of the grey Caloplacas, C. teicholyta.
 


The more acidic sandstone headstones have a completely different lichen assemblage, the most notable being the vivid yellow-green powdery lichen with an impossible name – Psilolechia lucida. There is no other lichen in the south-east which is quite like this, so if you can get your tongue around the name, you can impress your friends with your knowledge!  

Lichen colonisation is a natural consequence of any surface that is left exposed to the environment for a long time. Lichens indicate clean air and are regarded by many as decorative rather than disfiguring. Lichens are very sensitive to environmental change and our lichen flora is constantly under threat from numerous human activities.

Without lichens we would have a much poorer understanding of the health of our environment for humans as well as for wildlife.  

Ishpi Blatchley
British Lichen Society June 2019  

 

St Giles Churchyard Birdboxes

If you take a walk around St Giles’ churchyard you may notice a number of bird boxes located in different sites.

In the spring of 2010, twenty-one bird boxes were erected, fourteen suitable for Tits and Sparrows and the remaining seven of the open variety suitable for Robins and Blackbirds. 


All the boxes are inspected and cleaned each autumn. Most have evidence of regular use, and some boxes of both types have been used for nesting.