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St. John the Baptist’s churchyard is a haven for wildlife, plants and flowers. The boundary wall of the ‘Ha-ha’ provides an interesting habitat for many creatures and the church is one of very few with a Ha-ha on three sides. You might see rabbits and evidence of moles, and at dusk you’ll often see bats in search of their insect supper. In these special places, you’ll also discover the history and stories of people who lived in the area. Take time to stand, sit and stare at the hidden delights all around you.

The churchyard is surrounded by a retaining boundary wall of mortared stone, some of which is breaking down allowing plants to get a foothold in the crevices. The dry conditions on the top of the southern wall are particularly good for Ox-Eye Daisies, Bird’s Foot Trefoil, Stonecrop, Speedwell and Yarrow. Between the eastern wall and the road is an area of rough damp grassland - an ideal habitat for small mammals such as the Field Vole (or Short-Tailed Vole) Microtus agrestis and Bank Vole Myodes glareolus - both a source of food for hungry owls and birds of prey.

Bumblebees and butterflies...
The churchyard provides everything needed for bumblebee colonies to thrive. Old mouse and vole holes and tussocky grass make perfect nesting sites. Abundant supplies of pollen and nectar provide food for the queen when she comes out of hibernation, and for feeding the young bees. The areas of grass and wild flowers also support a varied population of butterflies including the Common Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni with its distinctive pointed wings, and the Speckled Wood Pararge rhamni attracted by the fruit trees in the orchard opposite the churchyard.

a) Bird’s Foot Trefoil
Lotus corniculatus

b) Black Knapweed
Centaurea nigra L.

c) Bulbous Buttercup
Ranunculus bulbosus

d) Ox-Eye
Leucanthemum Vulgare
Also known as Moon Daisy, Marguerite
and Maudlin Daisy.

e) Pignut
Conopodium majus

f) Red Dead Nettle
Lamium purpureum

g) Common Sorrel Suran
Rumex acetosa

h) Germander Speedwell
Veronica chamaedrys
Also known as Bird’s Eye
Anthriscus sylvestris

j) Cowslip
Primula Veris

k) Yarrow
Achillea millefolium

l) Snowdrop
Galanthus Also known as ‘Eve’s Tears’ or
Candlemas Bells (Candlemas is 2nd Feb.)


Churchyards have many stories to tell about how people lived in the past. On January 18th 1905, local children were skating on the frozen Gospel Pool at the farm opposite the church. The ice gave way and five of them tragically drowned. A sad reminder of how many families lost children at
a very young age is the grave of three infant sons of the Thelwell family. Brian died aged 7 weeks, Bernard 18 days, and Reggie aged one month. A prominent tomb is that of Lord John Hamner and his wife Georgina. The church was built in 1873 using local Grinshill stone and was entirely
funded by Lord Hanmer who died on 8th March 1881. Born at Chester Races on 8th May 1934, Bernard Hayes is described on his grave as a ‘Travelling Showman’. He died in 2003 and is finally at rest here - unusually, his memorial features his photograph.

Along with our native Hawthorn, English and Irish Yews, you’ll see fine
examples of Robinia (fabulous in flower) and the Corsican Pine
Pinus negra corsicana a variety of the European Black Pine Pinus negra.


Look out for...

Speckled Wood Butterfly in
spring and summer.
WW1 Portland stone war
grave of a rifleman.
The grave of Ian Banks
featuring his signature.
Native English and
Irish Yew trees.



St John the Baptist, Bettisfield Management Plan - click here

For a printable version of this page - click here

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How to find us

St John the Baptist,
SY13 2LB
The map below shows the rural churchyards taking part in the Sacred Space project. If you’ve enjoyed your visit to one of our amazing churchyards, why not discover the secrets and delights all of the others hold in store?


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