Wednesday, 12 January 2011


Several years ago I took a writing course. One of the assignments was to write an article so I went to a church in mid-Bucks where I knew I'd find something of interest.

I'd been there previously looking for gravestones for a lady in Australia who was researching her family history. On that occasion I'd parked, taken my camera in a bag and opened the gate to the churchyard. A group of Jacob sheep appeared round the corner and made a beeline for me.I beat a hasty retreat! I made some enquiries and found where one of the churchwardens lived. Luckily he was at home (though I think it was his wife who was the church official) and took me back across the road to the church.

He explained the sheep thought anyone with a bag was coming to feed them - that's why they were so eager to meet me...but they were harmless. I made sure I kept with him as we walked round looking at the names on the graves.
I found what I was looking for and a WW1 Memorial in the church, too, after shoving the sheep out of the porch.

When I returned to talk to a villager she fed them first! Because it is a large churchyard the sheep are the best and easiest way of 'mowing the grass', she told me. They are fed with special food, kept in a small building by the porch door. The new part of the churchyard has a fence round it as the sheep are partial to fresh flowers... I think I was told the sheep went to be shorn every summer - but this is 2006 and the article I wrote (which was published in a C of E magazine) has been tidied away in the roof space. Oh dear...

I wonder if they are still in the churchyard after the two hard winters we've had recently. Perhaps I'll go to see in a few months time.


Bernard said...

I love the idea of sheep keeping the grass down round the stones. It has been done for centuries all over the country.
Instead of a gate you can still sometimes find those small steps that run up one side of the churchyard wall and a similar set down on t'other. Around here, we hear of complaints of how expensive it is to mow all the grass round the graves. Then later we find they have laid all the stones down so they can run a mower straight over them. :(
Bring back the sheep - Oh, so simple.

Kath said...

My friend keeps several rare breeds on her farm in Wales. She also has comoners rights and her sheep often end up in peoples gardens.Good idea to have them in graveyards tho.