Eco Church Logo

 A Rocha Eco Church Award

What is Eco Church?  It is a Christian environmental movement encouraging church communities to make changes to their worship, teaching, land and buildings management, community and global engagement, and lifestyle to reflect  God's care for the Earth

Winter 2021

 As we draw to the close of the year we can be pleased with progress in our environmental credentials as a church.

The churchyard has been put to bed until the spring, although some tree work is underway. You may notice the dying red oak alongside the footpath has been pollarded for safety, leaving the trunk and main limbs for their habitat value. We’ve planted hawthorn in gaps in the holly hedge as advised by Kent Wildlife Trust to increase our biodiversity. Hawthorn is recognised as one of the best hedges for wildlife, supporting over 150 different species of insects which in turn will support our birds, bats and other creatures. We also have a new composting area beside the bonfire which we hope will reduce the need for bonfires and eventually compost our cups.

As a church family we acknowledged Climate Sunday and have had much more focus on climate issues through our intercessions, songs and talks particularly running up to COP26. All through the year we had a monthly eco-theme in the Parish News encouraging householders to measure and reduce their carbon footprint and we are trying to develop more sustainable practices in everything we do; from reducing our paper usage and using recycled paper, to Fairtrade goods. Not least holding our first Green Christmas Market!

We have increased our charitable donations too, adopting Medair and forging a relationship with a field worker who sent us a message from Ethiopia for our frugal lunch in October. We also attempted a first measurement of our carbon footprint as an organisation (something every organisation will have to address in the years ahead.) As a result of this the PCC agreed to offset our emissions through A Rocha Eco Church.

Our eco-journey is a work in progress, taking one step at a time, so well done everyone and thank you for your on-going support.

  eco church pics winter 2021

  


September 2021

 Butterfly

 Ant


As autumn draws near we look back on exceptionally wet weather throughout the summer months and an unprecedented flash flood which deluged from the skies over Horsmonden, resulting in road closures and devastating damage to some unfortunate properties. Clear evidence of the reality of climate change upon us.

Our churchyard atop a rocky outcrop drained quickly, but like everywhere else the grass has grown thick and fast and caused some difficulties accessing old graves in the ‘biodiversity corridor’, where the grass is cut once a year in sequence. Our response to this is to strim more access paths so families can tend these graves.

Thank you for the many complements and comments in support of our eco-management that we have received from people who visit the churchyard or walk the public footpath. More and more people are aware of the urgency to protect nature, encourage biodiversity and adapt personal habits to live more sustainably.

There are around 20,000 burial grounds in the country, often uncultivated and undisturbed for generations. Conservationists regard this combined area similar to a national park and a refuge for precious plants and wildlife.

We are learning more about the fragile life that our own churchyard supports and nature’s remarkable food chain. The cinnabar moth and the harmless yellow meadow ant for example. Both common insects in decline, threatened by loss of habitat as ragwort and  meadows are intensively ‘managed’. 



Spring Owl  

Spring Churchyard 

Spring 2021

Its early June and COVID regulations still dominate our lives, but our tranquil churchyard is a place of respite and beauty to refresh the spirit, with views across the agricultural countryside and spectacular patches of colourful wildflowers now in full bloom along our paths and between the graves.

The corncockles (annuals) which were seeded outside the west door and appeared for the first time last year, have made a comeback  and honoured us for a second year with a spectacular display of nodding pink and white blooms.

The saga of the little owl continues. Despite all efforts to block its entrance when it was legal to do so and deter it from roosting in the chapel above the organ pipes. It remains stubbornly in situ with all its accompanying mess. Indeed, we should be congratulating it on the arrival of one perhaps two owlets which are close to fledging.

Residency in the owl box that we put up in the hope of tempting our lodger out of the church, has been taken up by a colony of bees! 


January 2021 News

The autumn witnessed a devastating loss of habitat around our remote rural churchyard. Two stretches of old established hedgerow and undergrowth have been removed by neighbours totalling approx. 200m, now replaced by stock fencing and split rail tidiness to comply with grazing legislation. It leaves a stark sense of openness and significant loss of biodiversity precious to our eco church efforts in the churchyard. Last summer I noted the variety within these old hedgerows and photographed insects feeding and pollinating the blossoms.

Hedgerow 1

 Hedgerow 2

  Summer 2020


Removed Hedgerow 1

Removed Hedgerow 2 

Winter 2020

Hedges are essential to bats in agricultural landscapes for their insect diet and eco-location flyways. For as long as anyone can remember there have been bats roosting within the church roof. Last year we identified them by the frequency of their calls as Pipistrelle, Soprano Pipistrelle and Noctule bats.

We will watch with interest for fresh droppings when they wake up from hibernation. It  may well be that  they have moved away to Lordship Wood nearby where the Weald Scouts have erected bat boxes and where they will have more protection and feeding opportunities due to the impact of this habitat loss.

On a more cheerful note, the wildflower seeds planted in the autumn are starting to show signs of growth and we have identified our ‘resident’ owl as a Little Owl, though it was very adept at dodging the camera! We have however utterly failed at locating where it gets into the church. Concerned about its prolonged residency into the breeding season and legal constraints, we have called its bluff by playing a recording of a predator’s cry in the church, in the hope that it leaves the premises of its own accord. This began shortly before Lockdown 2 started so I can’t report on the results yet.


 Owl in church rafters

 Little owl perched high up on the church beams.

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June 2020 News 

 Church Floor

Bat and mouse droppings and
owl pellets on the Church floor
 

Our lovely church has been emerging from 12 weeks of corona virus lock down. Frankly, the church in places looked like the inside of an aviary with additional bat and mouse droppings everywhere. One of our valiant team of volunteer cleaners said,  ‘It just shows how quickly Nature would take over a derelict church building.’  However, on closer examination we discovered that what at first glance looked like dog poo was in fact owl pellets! Which on further examination indicated we have a visiting Barn Owl or Little Owl and that in turn suggests that the churchyard must also be home to voles, their favourite prey.

It’s early days of owl watching, but I hope to report back later in the year…  

 Honeysuckle

 Bladder Campion

 Cuckoo Flower

 Red Campion

 Yellow Pimpernel

 Honeysuckle

 Bladder Campion

 Cuckoo Flower

  Red Campion 

  Yellow Pimpernel

Meanwhile over 30 wild flower species have been in bloom in the new eco-zone left unmown in the churchyard. Ancient lichens continue to thrive on the stonework. Slow worms and grass snakes have been reported in the longer grass by our groundsman and swallows, sparrow hawks, buzzards, kestrels and garden song-birds  have been seen in the sky above. Plus, most recently a swarm of bees! At dusk the bats can be seen flitting about too. 

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