Management of Church Land

A report from our Management of Church Land champion

1 Does your church have influence over any land?

There are numerous areas of land associated with Beverley Minster:

The Minster Churchyard is closed (for burials) and is by law maintained by the East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC), but see below regarding the National Lottery Heritage Fund Sanctuary Project. January heralds snowdrops and winter aconites followed by a profusion of daffodils

Hall Garth, an area of grassland to the south of the Minster which is a moated site and a Scheduled Monument. It is leased to a farmer who cuts hay once or twice a year and grazes cattle as well as maintaining the fencing and site to a high standard, although the fencing is strictly the responsibility of the ERYC. The land is owned by the Diocese of York but administered by the Vicar and PCC of the Minster.

The Quiet Garden, an area to the side of the Parish Centre which is maintained by volunteer members of the congregation for the enjoyment of any visitors.

The Secret Garden, a large garden bequeathed in perpetuity to the Vicar of Beverley Minster. It is maintained by the same volunteers as the Quiet Garden but is currently not open to the public whilst it is being redeveloped after a member of the congregation had to call time on 30 years of largely single-handed care. Plans have yet to be developed for this area but it is anticipated that it will be used as a very valuable resource both for the Minster and the community.

The Vicarage Gardens. There are gardens to the front and rear of the Minster Vicarage for which the Vicar is currently responsible for maintaining but where more volunteer help is needed.

There are gardens at the residences of the Associate Vicar and the Curate but both are the responsibility of the incumbents.

There is a small garden adjacent to the Parish Hall, which again is maintained by volunteers.

There are 10 manger planters on the railings and 2 octagonal planters adjacent to the railings near the Highgate entrance to the Minster. These are tended and the flowers changed twice a year by a member of Beverley in Bloom who is also a member of the congregation.

2 The land at our church is managed for the encouragement of native wildlife (birds, animals and plants)

There are bird feeders in the Secret Garden. Many more birds have been seen in this garden since clearing began. It not being a very accessible site due to the nature of the boundaries, which have been largely undisturbed, it is doubted there are any hedgehogs. There has been the suspicion of an odd fox though none have been sighted. Frogs there certainly are.

3 We encourage wildlife on our church land through the provision of the following:

There are bird boxes and a bug hotel in the Secret Garden together with rotting, fallen trees which are left in situ, where feasible. In addition there is a very large bird box on the top of the North West Tower of the Minster – for peregrine falcons.

4 Stocked wildlife feeding stations are present on our church land

There are wildlife feeding stations and bowls of water which are replenished all the year round in the Secret Garden.

5 Our church land contains a pond or wetland area that is good for wildlife

There was a pond in the Secret Garden, which drained due to the water table lowering, but this has now been lined with plastic, held down with bricks, and with grass round the edges which has encouraged frogs.

6 We grow plants on our land that benefits birds, bees, butterflies etc.

There are many plants specifically chosen for birds, bees and butterflies and in the case of the latter, there are buddleia trees in all the gardens – self-seeded! The birds do, of course, benefit from the insects in and around the rotting tree trunks in the Secret Garden.

7 Our church maintains an area of land for native wildflowers

Hall Garth has native flowers growing in the grass, the seeds of which are spread during haymaking. In addition, there are plans for part of the churchyard which involve a managed wildlife habitat in which people can enjoy a space for peace and reflection as part of a National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) Sanctuary Project. This project will involve schoolchildren, adults with learning difficulties, and a local college which runs horticulture courses.

8 Our church has researched and established a mowing regime appropriate to the conservation of grassland and wildflowers present.

This will certainly be the case for the wildflower garden within the Minster churchyard. As far as Hall Garth is concerned, it is understood this is to be grazed earlier in the year because of land lost by the farmer to housing development. This may affect the reproduction of wild flowers.

9 Our church avoids the use of harmful chemicals in the management of our land (excluding paths and driveways)

This is true. No weedkillers are used – we make sure the roots of weeds are dug up.

10 Our church participates in responsible native tree planting schemes in accordance with guidance from environmental professionals

We already have many native trees but they are managed, according to size, and cuttings are used to fill in gaps. There is a yew tree with a Tree Preservation Order in the Secret Garden but we have to consult the professionals in the arboreal section of ERYC for significant work on trees because all our gardens are in a conservation area.

11 Our church undertakes wildlife (birds, animals and plants) surveys on our land

Not as yet, but at the time of writing we anticipating contributing to Springwatch in the Secret Garden.

12 Our church participates in a scheme, other than Eco Church, designed to promote conservation on church land.

The Minster is an active member of the Quiet Garden Movement and contributes regularly to their finances and one of our Churchwardens is the Host.

13 We grow fruit and vegetables on our land

In the Secret Garden there is a vegetable patch and many pear, plum and apple trees, the produce from which is used in catering in the Minster and in chutney production, sold for Minster funds.

In the past, flowers were also grown in the Secret Garden for use in decorating the Minster but a local firm is now donating the flowers.

14 Composting facilities are available on our church land.

There are composting bins in both the Quiet and Secret Gardens, the compost from which is used regularly. Larger branches are put in brown bins which ERYC collect for their composting facility, the compost from which is distributed free to local gardeners.

15 Our church actively encourages members to use church land for recreation/ contemplation

The Quiet Garden is very popular and used by many people, both members of the congregation, local members of the community and many visitors to the Minster, a major tourist attraction in the area. This garden has a number of secluded, seated corners. The quality of planting is maintained by frequent seasonal changes. Both Yorkshire in Bloom and Britain in Bloom judges have praised this magic space.

It is hoped to open the Secret Garden to visitors very soon.

The Minster Churchyard is open during daylight hours when the Minster is open, allowing anyone to wander though and see more closely the magnificence of the Minster building. Providing the wild garden aspect of the NLHF bid is successful, then this will further enhance the ambience of our gardens.

16 Our church actively encourages members of the local community to use the church land for recreation/contemplation

See 15 above

17 Our church has established a management plan for the land for which we are responsible.

The main areas concerned here are the Secret Garden and the NLHF project, as discussed above.