The Best Kept Churchyard Competition

By Ken Porter

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'The Best Kept Churchyard Competition' page

Ken Porter

For the second year running St Nicholas Church has come second in the Essex Best Kept Church Yard Competition organised by the Rural Community Council of Essex (RCCE)

The Churchyard is looked after by an energetic band of Volunteers, which includes members of the public, Princess’s Trust and the Community Pay Back.

Photo:From the left - Graham Fry, Peter Hartgrove, Ken Porter

From the left - Graham Fry, Peter Hartgrove, Ken Porter

The RCCE were particularly impressed with their efforts on conservation, which includes loggeries for insects, stone piles for slow worms, grass piles for snakes and other creatures. There are also bird nests, bug nests and feeding stations around the churchyard.

Photo:Herbaceous border

Herbaceous border

Ken Porter

It has well cut areas, flower beds and rose gardens, herbaceous borders and a herb garden, while the rest of the three and half acre graveyard is left with just a couple of cuts a year to promote flower and wildlife habitats.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'The Best Kept Churchyard Competition' page

Ken Porter

The church as most of you know sits proudly on top of the hill and can be seen from miles around and at the same time there are some great views from the church itself. Canary Wharf and other London land marks can be clearly seen on a good day.

This page was added by Ken Porter on 03/08/2011.
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Saturday 26th September, visited St Nicholas graveyard to see for myself the transformation the gang of volunteers have made. Was shocked to see the results, pleasantly I might add. Many of the hedges that separated different areas are now gone making it look a lot more open and consequently bigger. I particularly like and approve of the environmental areas that have been left to wild flower areas. The overall effect is not at all as I remember it, it looks really well managed and is a vast improvement on the way it used to be. It no longer has the look of neglect that for many years, decades in fact, that it suffered from throughout my youth. It is now a pleasure to see and your band of merry men are to be commended and congratulated for their efforts. The people of Laindon don't know how lucky they are to have you. Thanks. 

By Donald Joy
On 27/09/2015

From the upper level of the graveyard to the lower level, there were two sets of steps. As you stood at the top looking down toward the church hall, walk down the steps on the right, just a few yards down the path toward the hall and then a little to the right, there was a grave surrounded by white painted stones. The grass around it was always kept cut short, indicating that it was frequently visited and tended. Twice a year a family of quite considerable number and varying ages would arrive, equipped with garden tools, pot plants, chairs, picnic table, baskets of food and drinks and a tin of white paint and brushes. After the area was tidied, the grass cut and plants planted, out came the paint and the stones would all get another coat. Only when this was completed would the chairs be laid out around the grave and the table be strategically placed, then everybody partook of the refreshments. The family stayed for the whole day, singing hymns, it was a sight to behold, a moving display of respect, devotion and dedication, that I and my crew were fortunate to witness. 

I wonder if after 30+ years, this practice continues ?

P.s. Omitted to say, this was a gypsy family !

By Donald Joy
On 21/09/2015

Ken, your comment and the photos above have given me heart. To think that the efforts of myself and the crew I had working for me have contributed by giving you a head start to the fine work you and all concerned have done pleases me greatly. On behalf of Laindoners old and new ----- THANKS. 

By Donald Joy
On 20/08/2015

Hi Donald.   Your comment has reminded me that in fact the following year we won the Best Kept Church in Essex Competition.   Ken

By Ken Porter
On 18/08/2015

This is really lovely to see. I don't recall the year (not good with dates) but sometime in the '80s, I, on behalf of Basildon Council and the Bishop of Chelmsford, ran a Community Project. This involved me being allocated a number of unemployed young men, 1 group mornings, 1 group afternoons. I was tasked with getting these chaps working to clear the graveyard of weeds and all other growth such as brambles and overgrown hedges. We were supplied only with hand tools which made it really hard going and it took 6 months to tidy the whole area but it was really satisfying once we started to see the results of our efforts.

One particular occasion sticks in my mind, a little old lady who had hauled her lawn mower and various other gardening tools up Church Hill in her shopping trolley every week to tend the area around her late husbands grave approached me and with tears streaming down her face. She thanked me profusely for the work we were doing and told me that her husband had been dead for 45 years, she had been every week since and that the area we were clearing had never been done in all that time! I and my group of workers made a fine job considering what we had to work with and the state it was in when we began.

Unfortunately, a couple of years later I went back to have a look and was horrified to see that all our efforts had been in vain as it had not been touched since and as a result was completely overgrown again!

By Donald Joy
On 17/08/2015