East Budleigh churchyard has been crowned the best in Devon after beating off stiff competition to win the top spot.
The recent Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) competition focussed on maintenance, planting, habitat, and conservation in its judging criteria.
Churchyards flying the flag for East Devon were Littleham-cum-Exmouth and Dalwood, who were both highly commended by judges.
East Budleigh was named joint runner-up in the 2018 competition.
Prizes were presented to the 2019 winners at Exeter Cathedral, attended by the Bishop of Exeter.
A CPRE spokesperson said the quality of all the entries was high and judges were ‘very impressed’ by the standards.
“We have very much enjoyed visiting every corner of the county visiting all the churchyards who have entered our competition in its second year,” said the CPRE.
“We received more entries this year, and a huge variety, which has been fantastic – so it’s taken a bit of time to get to them all.
“We’ve discovered lots of bug hotels along the way, magnificent yew trees, an amazing pond, a mini-beast trail, bird boxes, pretty flower and shrub beds. Lots of wild flowers, butterflies and bees, beautifully looked after and cared for churchyards, hardly any litter, and just really tranquil places to be.
“Well done to all the volunteers who look after them – you do a great job.”
The CPRE added: “Thank you everyone who took time to enter our competition, it was a pleasure to undertake the visits. We look forward to next year’s competition.”
See what the judges said:
WINNER. East Budleigh. All Saints Church: The volunteer team presented an excellent entry application. The detail was second to none. Maintenance, planting and habitat management followed the publicly displayed plan. Extra effort entailed visiting many conservation churchyards in the South West. The standard throughout was excellent, meeting the judge’s criteria and substantially improved on the 2018 entry.
RUNNER-UP. Ilfracombe: People and wildlife clearly love this churchyard. The continued care and attention, embracing wide sections of the community and enhancing the wildlife habitat has paid dividends. A number of innovative aspects, such as planted areas for fruit, vegetable and herbs were of special interest.
RUNNER-UP. Molland: The provision of a pit stop for walkers and cyclists was unique among the competition entries. As were the welcome notices for spiders made by the children on the bug house. Thought had gone into providing for people and wildlife.
HIGHLY COMMENDED. Dalwood. St Peter’s Church: The welcome notice on the church door was both humorous and all embracing. Promoting the CPRE competition caught the judge’s eye.
HIGHLY COMMENDED. Kingsbridge: The picnic tables and mini-beast trail encouraged young and old to take time out here and enjoy a break away from the town centre and retail park just a stone-throw away.
HIGHLY COMMENDED. Littleham-cum-Exmouth. Church of Saint Margaret and Saint Andrew: The sheer size of this churchyard is a mammoth undertaking to keep under control, yet has been achieved, mainly through the efforts of one man. The variety of habitat, attention to detail and careful management are noteworthy.