A ’beautiful’ churchyard in East Devon described as ‘incredibly welcoming’ has won an award for being one of the best in the county.
St John the Baptist Church in Hawkchurch, near Axminster, has been named best new entry in the 2022 awards to find Devon’s top churchyards.
Devon CPRE Best Churchyard judges awarded a certificate to the Hawkchurch entry, calling it ‘the most welcoming of all the places they visited’ in Devon.
A spokeswoman for the competition said: “The judges described it as a beautiful and incredibly welcoming churchyard – the most welcoming of all the places they visited because the gate to the churchyard was open, as was the door to the church, and there was a lovely welcome sign which made them want to walk right in.”
The annual competition seeks out Devon’s Best Churchyard for people and wildlife.
The churchyard named as the best across the whole of Devon was All Saints Church in Kenton, near Exeter.
The judges heard how the people of Kenton rallied round to rescue their village church from closure early in the pandemic – creating a ‘sanctuary for people and wildlife that impressed the competition panel.
The Devon CPRE Best Churchyard spokeswoman said: “This is the fifth year of the competition. Once again the judges, the charity’s director Penny Mills and trustee Ivan Buxton, travelled the length and breadth of the county visiting the diverse entries.
“The Covid lockdowns highlighted the importance of churchyards to local communities, particularly in places where other recreational areas and facilities have been lost.”
In deciding the 2022 winner the judging criteria included ways churchyards encourage wildlife.
The competition spokeswoman added: “Penny and Ivan always enjoy seeing topical touches in the churchyards – in previous years these have included a scarecrow in the form of a nurse as a nod to the work of NHS staff during the pandemic and a scarecrow depicting Captain Sir Tom Moore. This year, several churchyards commemorated the Platinum Jubilee.
“However, the judges were surprised and a little disappointed that only two churches showed any visible support for Ukraine with a flag or ribbons placed outside.”
East Devon residents receive 1000s of meals through a year of food-share support and community larders in Axminster, Broadclyst, Exmouth, Honiton, Sidmouth and Ottery St Mary