We’re really fortunate at St Mary’s to have a large churchyard, the only “open” one locally. In Warsash local people can be buried or interred close to where their loved ones live, and there’s a steady stream of visitors to the churchyard, to care for the graves or just to reflect or pray. We value being able to serve our village community in this way. The purpose of this page is to explain the latest developments in the way forward for future use of our tranquil and very well used churchyard.
Sadly, as was mentioned in November’s Parish News, after 145 years of continuous use our churchyard is now almost full. We held a period of consultation on our proposals for keeping it open at the end of last year, which included articles in the local press and even an interview on local cable TV! The proposals attracted only favourable comment and the good news is that the PCC’s proposals have now been approved by the Diocese and we are now implementing them.
The major impact on the graveyard itself will be the creation of a beautiful new Garden of Remembrance (a Memorial Garden), for the perpetual interment of ashes. The design the PCC has approved is a landscaped area at the end of the eastern path in the churchyard in the shape of a Celtic Cross, as shown in the sketch. There will be a central circular bench with a tree in the middle so that people can rest and remember their loved ones in the heart of the Garden. We will raise the crowns of the surrounding trees to provide more light and space, and remove the accumulated earth and compost heaps that have formed into a bank at the eastern end of the churchyard. However we will leave a small raised bank to provide some privacy from the football pitches. The tree shown inside the Garden will have to be removed but the Council arborist has been consulted about this and agreed that all our work on the trees can go ahead.
Ashes will be buried in the four grassed segments, but without individual memorial tablets. Instead, people’s names will be recorded in a Book of Remembrance displayed in the church, which is open from 9am-5pm each day. Such books are now in common use in modern burial sites to make suitable records of those interred there. The Book will be placed in a custom-built display case that will make use of some of the wrought iron-work from the old choir pews, thus providing a nice link with the history of the church.
We hope to have the work completed in 2016. The cost of providing this new facility is likely to be in the region of £11k which needs to be met by our worshipping community; St Mary’s has no other sources of income. Our hope is that many in the local community will welcome the opportunity to partner with us in financing this facility for the benefit of us all in the years to come. We are working on some ways in which people might participate in this and will let you know more soon. Meanwhile, if you would like to support the creation of this wonderful new facility for our village by sending in a donation, then please let the Vicars or the Treasurer know.
Photos from the creation of the Garden of Remembrance below:-