Cradley Churchyard Plan 2019

The latest version of this plan will be found on the notice-board at - this version was last modified 22 November 2019.

Last year we completed the felling of the large oppressive cypress trees and opened up views of the Malvern Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The PCC appreciate the volunteering and support shown by a large number of villagers, and most especially from our neighbours. We could not have done it without you!

This year our aims are comparatively modest as we have been concentrating on Heritage Lottery Funds to repair and enhance the Church itself. But we need to continue in the background to ensure that nothing in the Churchyard gets on top of us again. The main activities this year include:

Development of the hay meadows with help from Caring for God's Acre
Maintaining the yew trees - pollarding yew F
Removal of the holly between the Church and the Old Rectory wall
Crown lifting of the walnut tree that is damaging the north hedge
Levelling graves
Planning for the levelling and removal of kerb stones

Statement of needs

Cradley PCC wish to continue to look after the Churchyard for the benefit of current and future generations. In-action would be most inappropriate given the support we continue to receive from Parishioners. None of the trees recommended for felling or surgery are required for landscaping, screening, remembrance or commemoration of any event.

The Spring Wildflower Meadow (red), Summer Wildflower Meadow (dark green), Irish Yew 'F', Holly and Walnut are identified on the map. We plan to expand the spring wild flower meadow for 2020.

The Churchyard is in the Cradley Conservation Area, the Malvern Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and trees planted before 1969 have tree preservation orders (including the Yew). The walnut now also has a Tree Preservation order.

We are now contacting the Hereford Diocesan Advisory Committee about the Holly, Yew F and Walnut via the Online Faculty System. Funding for the tree work falls within the budget reserved from previous donations that were given on the condition that any gift aid rebate be used for the Churchyard Trees.

Development of the Meadows

In 2017 we started a spring wildflower meadow on the bank to the North of the Church, and have sown Yellow rattle on the area directly North of the Church as a summer wildflower hay meadow. The Caring for God's Acre comments about wildflower meadows have been taken seriously and we are monitoring what grows naturally - we have not introduced anything else (except for a couple a metres of Highgrove mix to kick start the flowers). The ground is quite rich and we are advised that it may take a few years before significant benefit is seen.

A "Plant Identification Session" was held in the churchyard on Tuesday 11th June, 10.30-12.00noon. Records of the plants found in the Churchyard can be found via On 18 June 2019 the spring wildflower meadow was cut and the cuttings left for the seeds to drop. The hay was removed by volunteers on Saturday 29 June.

Towards the end of July 2019 we cut the summer wildflower hay meadow and arranged for a working party from the Probation Service to clear the hay after the seeds had dropped. The team returned in November to clear the grass from the final cut of 2019.

CfGA held a fungus identification session in the Churchyard on 30 October 2019, with interesting finds on the south mown lawns and under the main yew A.

Maintaining our yew trees

The felling of the cypress trees has exposed our magnificent yew trees. However, the previous lack of light and the snows of December 2017 have taken their toll. We have taken arboricultural expert advice to protect them for another thousand years, take a look at the yew tree report of 16 April 2019 that provides sufficient justification for our proposals.

'Pollarding' Yew F (erroneously labelled in the report as E) adjacent to the West path by the Spring meadow – Coned tapered stumping of this Irish Yew to allow re-growth. The PCC approved this plan on 12 June 2019 and planning permission has been granted. This tree was irretrievably damaged by the snows of December 2017.

We are deferring work on Yew B to the East of the Church – the report suggested that an arborist prune back long branches by 1-2 metres, with crown reduction to be considered in 3-5 years. The long branches are over-extended and interfere with grass mowing. Tree D in the NE corner is recovering so well after the removal of the holly that we now propose not to remove the branch detailed in the report.

Regarding the age of the yew trees, there is a wide range of opinion of the age of the 2 old yew trees (A&B), from 800-1200 years, and historians have different views about the age of the church. While the present building appears to be early C12th, there is much speculation as to whether or not there was an earlier Anglo-Saxon church. Tantalisingly, while the Domesday book lists a priest with one and a half virgates of land (about 45 acres) sufficient for a man to live off; it does not mention a church. The Archbishop of Canterbury certificate provides further evidence and is in the Church porch.

The Holly on the Old Rectory wall to the West of the Church

We need to remove the twin stemmed holly just to the west of the Church as it is damaging the boundary wall. The justification for this work is to preserve this significant boundary wall. Felling would be done late November to get a harvest of Holly for the Christmas fair. The two stems are each nearly 20cm diameter at 1.5m height. There is plenty of holly in the hedge along the west boundary so we do not intend to plant a replacement. The holly is small and can be removed by volunteers at no cost.

The PCC approved this on 11 March 2019 and planning permission has been granted.

We are keeping this area between the Church and the west wall clear to allow future possible use as a cremation memorial area.

looking north, showing ash trees in the hedge beyond the holly
looking West towards The Old Rectory, showing twin stemmed holly
looking South, showing the Irish Yew by the current cremation memorial area

The Walnut tree on the North hedge

The walnut tree on the north boundary is shading the hedge and causing die-back. It is in need of surgery, the removal of overhanging branches, or complete removal. Growth this year has been significant since the removal of a neighbouring cypress tree and this makes action quite urgent. Discussion with neighbours and other Churchyard users resulted in PCC permission being given on 11 March 2019 for complete removal but the walnut was made subject to a Tree Preservation Order following the Hereford Council Planning Application. The Tree Warden advised us to apply for crown lifting away from the hedge to a height of 4 to 5 metres and this permission has now been granted.

JUSTIFICATION. The tree is at the North boundary of Cradley Churchyard and overhangs the Churchyard hedge and the gravelled driveway of Stoney Villa. This work is supported by Hugh Forsyth of Stoney Villa.
1. The hedge to the north, which is maintained by Hugh and members of the congregation (Ian Bailey), is dying back due to the shade caused by the tree. Low branches in the Churchyard are a hazard to people mowing the grass.
2. Leaf and nut-case drop is causing a nuisance on the graves and our good neighbour’s gravelled driveway
3. If we crown reduce it, we are going to end up with an ugly tree which we will want to fell anyway in a few years.
4. We suspect the tree was planted by a squirrel, probably after a burial when the soil was loose; it is not a memorial and there appears to be no reason for its location.
5. There is a large hedge to the North and magnificent pines to the South. There are other walnuts in the vicinity.
6. Views northwards out of the Churchyard, and southwards of the Church from the valley, would be enhanced by any surgery.

The tree is just to the North of cypress tree stump #5 on the 2018 plan. This corner of the Churchyard has benefited from the increased light following the felling of tree #5 and will benefit further from surgery to the Walnut. There are spring wild flowers developing between it and the NW gate.

Walnut trees naturally grow to a spherical shape, with a tendency to produce low, overhanging branches, not dissimilar in growing habit to a yew. This specimen is growing upwards, its crown is lifted towards the light.

looking East along the Stoney Villa hedge
looking West along the Stoney Villa hedge
looking east, showing die-back along the boundary hedge
looking west, showing surrounding trees

Levelling graves

The Hereford Diocesan Churchyard Regulations say, for those tending graves, that "A small mound of earth will usually be left immediately after the interment. About a year after this the grave should be levelled. Once this is done an application may be made for the introduction of a memorial." To make the Churchyard a safer place that is easier to keep tidy the PCC is re-visiting this regulation for untended graves.

Those tending graves are respectfully asked to adhere to the regulations where possible, noting that the Rector has a certain amount of discretion in the application of the rules. Where possible, we will attempt to contact people who are affected.

The Funeral Director who conducted the funeral should arrange for graves to be levelled a year after the burial. When new graves are dug, the grave digger spreads excess soil where there are dips in the graveyard. In 2019 excess compost has also been used to smooth out dips.

For the record, the following survey was conducted with the plot number, information and numeric/alpha grid references taken from the CMS heritage Group "Cradley Church Memorials 2018" document placed at the back of the Church

This kerb is between the spring and summer meadows, by the log pile
Re-set side kerb
159 Lane S A 1934 4J
310 Ely E, M 1908/1910 3K 1884 -
307 Archer R H 1964 2K
306 1K
303 Preece E M, Downie E E 1918 1L cross
level graves along the West hedge to Coach House
level, put vase in line with headstone
297 Wakeman P B 1986 0K (south of Brena)
Tidy and level (there is another dip near here)
?257 Richardson E K, C A 1974/1988 0F
unmarked, south of 239 Turnbull H M 1990 1I
Level untended areas
360 Hunt E A, P 2003 1E
366 Bishop P H, E M 2008 1E
368 Phillips L M 2008 1E

Levelling and removing kerbs

A Faculty is required to move broken or dangerous grave kerbs. Once identified (i.e. this survey), the graves should be mapped, photographed, identified, families traced and permission sought. The PCC would need to agree where the removed kerbs are to be placed and a proper record made, so that families would be able to find them if they wished. Due to the weight of the stones themselves it would be prudent to obtain professional quotes for the work. All this information would be in the evidence sent as part of the petition to the Chancellor.

Since it takes considerable time and effort to contact people and research records, including Hereford Record Office for the 1960's clearance of the South triangle, there is little appetite for the work itself and so action is being deferred.

Where it is not feasible to place removed kerb stones close to their original site we propose to use them to consolidate and rebuild the wall of the large MU rose-bed outside the Church porch; part of it has disintegrated, and it can be seen that old kerb stones have previously been used in parts of it. The Remembrance Garden, maintained by Cradley CE Primary School, would also benefit from re-building with the kerbs. This re-use of the kerbs will keep the inscriptions within the Churchyard and make them more visible.

Our plan will eventually be publicised in the Churchyard and the 3-villages Newsletter.

The plot number, information and numeric/alpha grid references are taken from the CMS heritage Group "Cradley Church Memorials 2018" document placed at the back of the Church

Remove kerb for safety; note that this grave may then be unmarked
This kerb is by the pathway between the Church and the village hall, the area is used for events so it is a trip hazard
48 Palmer I F 1941 9D
Remove kerb for safety, place headstone on South wall
This kerb is in the area used for events so it is a trip hazard
35 Payne A W, B, L 1941/1967 11E
Remove kerbs for safety but put inscriptions in line with other headstones
31 Law A, M 1945/1947 9E 32 Sturkey T H, C 1903/1935 9E
Remove kerbs for safety but put inscriptions in line with other headstones
28 Howard W, S F 1946/1981 10E 29 Wilson G, M A 1944/1953 10E