Saturday, 21 January 2017

Wednesday 19th January 2017

We continued work this morning typing up the reference sheets for the file of individual gravestone records. It’s steady but slow work, and we are kept going by plenty of gossip, laughter, coffee and biscuits.

After a quick lunch, Sue and I spent the afternoon in the churchyard updating our list of tended graves. We feel it is important to know how many graves are visited by relatives and friends – this not only gives us an indication of one way in which the churchyard is used,  emphasising its importance to the community, but also helps us when it comes to considering the maintenance of the graveyard. The issue of how many ornaments and flowers and potted plants should be permitted is a contentious one, as many feel it makes a churchyard untidy, cluttered and unsightly, even tasteless, and for those who have to do the mowing it can make their job very awkward. Certainly a windy day can cause havoc with little trinkets and flowers being scattered around, and as ornaments become shabby, broken and old, and flowers wilt (or fray, if they are artificial), it can make a churchyard look scruffy and unkempt.

On the other hand, the uniformity of modern-day headstones can make a graveyard feel clinical and soulless. Yet this is a place where the bereaved need to feel an emotional connection with their loved ones. Visiting a family grave is an emotional event – and the bereaved need to make a personal gesture, to add something to the graveside that is pertinent to the individual.

Despite the disapproval of some guardians of churchyards, every Easter and Christmas, graveyards around the country are visited by the recently and not-so-recently bereaved, to lay flowers and wreaths for remembrance, affection, grieving and/or comfort. Sometimes little ornaments are added. These can be very touching, emotionally intense, and laden with sentimental meaning. These graveside tokens represent the purpose of the graveyard as a place of remembrance and the celebration of individuals. Without them churchyards would be much sadder places.  A balance needs to be achieved.

So we have recorded the Easter and Christmas status of visited graves. Sue and I admired some lovely flower and wreath arrangements. 

The colour from these lifts the atmosphere and at both Easter and Christmas the flowers have looked lovely. Some of the new little ornaments recently deposited are very touching, and we hope their presence will be tolerated for some time yet.

Jane Lunnon. 
Please note that all opinions expressed n this post are purely personal, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Group. 

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