Cradley Churchyard Plan 2019

The latest version of this plan will be found on the notice-board at - this version was last modified 28 August 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 will be 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
Removal of the holly between the Church and the Old Rectory wall
Removal of the walnut tree that is damaging the north hedge
Levelling graves
Planning the levelling and removing 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.

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). We require planning consent to look after Yew F and remove the holly and the walnut.

We also need a faculty, and are contacting the Hereford Diocesan Advisory Committee about the three trees. The holly is not a significant tree and is damaging the boundary wall so we may only require permission from the Archdeacon for that.

Development of the Meadows

Last year 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).

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 we will cut the summer wildflower hay meadow and have arranged for a working party to clear the hay after the seeds have dropped.

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. We are currently seeking permission for:

Tree 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. This tree was irretrievably damaged by the snows of December 2017.

The PCC has a notional budget remaining from the fellings of 2019 for this tree. If there is any conflict with cash flow requirements for the current work on the Church then that will take precedence. Any shortfall will be made up from donations, no further PCC funds will be used.

We are deferring work on Tree 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 that provides further evidence 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 December 2019 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.

We are keeping the area between the Church and this 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 crown reduction, the removal of overhanging branches, or better still 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 has resulted in PCC permission being given on 11 March 2019 for complete removal.

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, which is maintained by Hugh and members of the congregation (Ian Bailey), is dying back due to the shade caused by the tree.
2. Leaf and nut-case drop is causing a nuisance on the graves and our good neighbour’s gravelled driveway
3. If we trim it, we are going to end up with an ugly tree which we will want to fell anyway in a few years. It is becoming enormous and cannot be left un-tended.
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. The tree would not be missed as 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, will be enhanced.

The tree is in the Cradley Conservation Zone and was introduced after the tree preservation order was applied to Cradley Churchyard in 1969.

The tree is just to the North of cypress tree stump #5 on the previous plan. This corner of the Churchyard has benefited from the increased light following the felling of tree #5 and will benefit further from the removal of the Walnut.

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.

The crown could be raised away from the hedge by the removal of two main branches shown in the east-looking picture below, but the beauty of the tree would be diminished.

Complete removal of the tree would be by a professional, paid for by donation. Last year it was within the capabilities of our volunteers, but it has now grown beyond that. PCC funds will not be used.

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 and this will considerably extend the time scale for completion of our plans.

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.

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

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 report), the graves are to be mapped, photographed, identified, families traced and permission sought. The PCC 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. All this information would be in the evidence sent as part of the petition to the Chancellor.

Due to the time it takes to contact people and research records, including Hereford Record Office for the 1960's clearance of the South triangle, the work itself will be 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