Living Churchyards

Churches and churchyards are often an important refuge for rare and protected species such as bats and slow worms. Many churchyard and burial grounds contain rare plants, relics of the old meadows which once surrounded the church.

SWT recognises that these churchyards and cemeteries are important in our Living Landscape and the way we manage them can have an important impact on our wildlife.

We have a Living Churchyard network and are working with 17 churches, churchyard groups and Cemeteries across Surrey, to improve their management for the benefit of people and wildlife.

There is now an opportunity for these and other churchyards to sign up to our new Group Membership Scheme, with the many benefits and support this scheme offers.

Many churchyards were created on land that was once meadow land and the meadow flowers, such as Meadow Saxifrage, are often still present. By changing the mowing regime and allowing these rare plants to flower, the churchyards can help to preserve our threatened wildlife and improve the biodiversity of their land. It also makes it more attractive and enjoyable for people.

St Mary’s Byfleet

The group’s hard work and partnership with the Trust have transformed a neglected area into a welcoming space

One of the Churchyard groups who have signed up to the Group Membership Scheme is 'The Wild Bunch' at St Mary’s Church, Byfleet.

The Wild Bunch is a group of parishioners, and local people supported by the church and the wider community who got together to create a wildflower area in the churchyard. The project has grown with the group creating a 'contemplative garden' in a small area of woodland adjoining the church.

This area was previously neglected for many years, and the group has had support from SWT in organising events to clear the rubbish from the copse and plant trees (with the local brownies), as well as providing tools and advice.

In partnership with the Trust, the group have transformed a neglected area into a welcoming space that will soon be full of woodland flowers and benches for quiet contemplation.

Find out more

If you would like to find out more about this Project or would like to join the Churchyard network. Please contact Frances Halstead on 07891 514574, or email:

More information about the National scheme to promote and protect wildlife in churchyards can be found at the Caring for Gods Acre website.