Cemetery fans act to save heritage…

The Footprint Trust’s Cemetery Warden scheme held its first training event last Saturday (28th Aug) at the historic All Saints Church in Freshwater. Some 25 keen local people have volunteered as wardens and 17 of those are now trained. The project, which covers the whole Island, has been made possible thanks to support from Heritage Lottery funded West Wight Landscape Partnership.

Cemetery Wardens have an interest in nature conservation, the landscape, heritage and the community. The scheme intends to bring together these diverse concerns and recruit local people to assist the wardens. This scheme covers all burial grounds, including municipal cemeteries and churchyards, subject to the owner’s permission.

Ray Harrington-Vail of the Trust said..

‘Churchyards and cemeteries are often one of the last refuges for rare wildflowers and contain fine examples of architecture. They can hold they key to family and social history.’

‘They must be cared for in a sympathetic way which means managing with wildlife in mind, whilst being mindful that it is a place of remembrance… ‘

As part of the training Wardens were given guidance on the dangers of over-enthusiastic clearance which can damage memorials and destroy rare and interesting features.

One concern is the cleaning of gravestones with chemicals, which can eat away at the delicate stonework. Another is removing ivy which if not done correctly can damage the stone and remove the inscription.

‘.. in some cases ivy can protect gravestones and buildings from extreme weathering and pollution – we suggest just removing enough to photograph the inscription… ivy does not kill trees and is a great habitat for wildlife…’

Said Ray Harrington-Vail.

The Wardens were informed about the history of modern burial, nature conservation management, recording and indexing of graves, and how to raise funds and recruit volunteers. They will be given ongoing support from the Footprint Trust.

The day was supported by the Friends of Northwood Cemetery, Ryde Social Heritage Group, All Saints Church, Hants & IW Wildlife Trust. The Footprint Trust thanked West Wight Landscape Partnership and Isle of Wight Council staff for their support particularly the County Archivist, County Ecologist, Bereavement Services and Head of Parks of Countryside – all of which has given valuable advice and support to the project.

If you have an interest in burial grounds and would like to train as an IW Cemetery Warden, or volunteer to help please contact the Footprint Trust for more details or find the leaflet in your local library. info@footprint-trust.co.uk Tel; 01983 82-22-82.


Note to Editors

The West Wight Landscape Partnership is a three year programme of projects that are helping to conserve and enhance the important habitats of the Isle of Wight’s western area and encourage people to explore and celebrate its rich culture and heritage. It is funded primarily by the Heritage Lottery Fund with smaller contributions from a range of local organisations.

Some of the burial grounds that now have Cemetery Wardens…

All Saints, Freshwater
Christchurch, Totland Bay
St Swithins Thorley
St David’s East Cowes
Binstead Cemetery
Whippingham St Mildreds
East Cowes Cemetery
St Blasius, Shanklin

Footprint Trust 01983 822282