The History of the Churchyard

The churchyard

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Originally the churchyard was just the area immediately surrounding the church. However, because of the growing population of the new parish, this was found to be too small so in 1882 the vicar of Hampton gave an acre of land next to the church in Park Road to be used as the parish burial ground. Thus the churchyard now covers an area of approximately 1.6 acres and contains about 1200 known graves. The older part of the churchyard has many fine rare trees. The War Memorial, listed Grade 2 in 2015, was erected in 1920 and near it are the Canadian war graves, needed when the Canadian Military Hospital was situated in Bushy Park during the 1914-1918 war. The lych gate formerly stood nearer St James's Road but was moved to its present site in the early 1900s.

Since 1992, the churchyard has been closed for burials except for reserved places in existing plots, though the interment of ashes is permissible. The maintenance of the churchyard is now the responsibility of the Local Authority. Have a look at The Churchyard through the years which shows what happened from when records began up until 2017.

Churchyard In January 2017 the copper beech, on the corner of St James's Road and Park Road, became unsafe after being attacked by a giant fungus and had to be felled. Read the article A sad farewell to the beech tree. A new bench made from beech wood was given to the church by the local council and installed by the south porch. A new beech was planted in its place.
In July the church registered with the Mayor of London’s 'Trees for Sacred Spaces' project and four trees were received and planted.
Following the Diocese of London’s 'Caring for God’s Acre', a charity which promotes and assists in the care of churchyard green spaces, St James Church worked together with the Council’s churchyard maintenance subcontractors, Continental Landscapes, to manage, protect and develop its wildlife flora and fauna.
To help with the creation and future maintenance of the wildlife areas the St James’s Gardening Club, (open to all), was launched in November 2017.
In recent years there has been a significant loss of mature trees in the churchyard due to fungus infection. The council has replaced most of these trees but mainly with smaller species and so care and monitoring of the health of the existing large trees has become a paramount concern and regular tree inspections will continue.

In the spring of 2018 the area around the bottom of the tower was cleared and shrubs and daffodils planted.
During the course of the year several saplings were planted in various places in the churchyard in memory of members of the congregation.
The churchyard grass was left uncut for the majority of the summer to see what natural plants were growing and where. As a result, areas of wild flowers were left to grow, seed and increase. The Gardening Club started creating new wildlife areas as well as maintaining existing areas, in conjunction with the local council, who remained responsible for the general upkeep.
Wooden nest boxes were donated by parishioners.
The Canadian Maple which marked the Canadian War Graves died in the early spring of 2018. The church liaised with the Canadian War Graves Commission regarding replacing it.
In December 2018 a mixed hedge was planted along the Park Road/St James's Road perimeter of the new churchyard garden area. This was thanks to the Mayor of London's 'Greening Initiative' with fifty native shrub whips being planted. 

The new garden on the north-west corner, where the large copper beech had to be felled, was landscaped in 2019. The garden contained slightly raised flower beds, a turfed lawn and a donated wooden bench.
• A new rose garden was started on the south-east side of the interment lawn in the Garden of Remembrance. This is to provide the opportunity for family members to plant a dedicated rose with a small memorial plaque. Applications to plant roses here should be made through the Church Office.
A CWGC sign, notifying that the churchyard contains war graves, was fixed to the iron railings at the South Porch entranceway to the church in 2020. 
The garden on the north-west corner continued to be planted with donated annauls and perennials and has remained colourful throughout the summer with volunteers watering ferquently during hot dry weather. 
With autumn approaching, it is hoped that walkers will leave any mushrooms, toadstools and fungi untouched as they form an important and intregal part of the churchyard's eco-system.

Owing to the various Covid restrictions churchyard maintenance activities were limited and there was no group activity or meeting of the Gardening Club.
However, an early 2020 spring meeting was held with Continental Landscapes, the Council’s subcontractors for churchyard maintenance, to plan the grass cutting, brush and bramble clearance and hedge cutting. This was carried out in good measure as and when required and conservation of flowering plants and wildlife habitats were all considered.
Volunteer activity was carried out by individuals, keeping in touch by telephone and email. The lawn in the new north west garden was periodically mown as required and the new garden flower planting and weeding and plants maintenance there and along the new west-front shrubbery was well maintained with spent annuals cleared in the autumn and a thorough weeding and digging over carried out in early spring.
Saplings were kept cut back throughout the churchyard, the Garden of Remembrance was tended on a regular basis and the usual weekly litter clearance continued. It is hoped the Canadian sugar maple will be replaced by the Canadian War Grave.
• There was only one interment of ashes in the Garden of Remembrance plus one burial into a family grave plot during this period.

These bullet points only show some information from this period. The Annual Parochial Church Meeting Reports show the latest reports from most teams and groups.

Churchyard Churchyard Churchyard

Dedicating a newly planted tree in memory of a member of the congregation

The Gardening Club

The garden made in 2019