Churchyard thanks to Richard Kingston, Simon Lee and Bob Rowley, A.S Hartrick and his grave and book, and some ecology information
There is always a problem over the speed at which the grass grows in the churchyard, not to mention all the other plants, whether willow herb or little trees or whatever. We have been very fortunate in having Richard Kingston putting in many, many years of lonely labour keeping the grass in order, and we are extremely grateful to him. Others have kindly joined working parties or made their own over time to attack everything else. Richard has now decided to step down, and understanding the problem so well, very wonderfully recruited a successor for us, by asking Simon Lee if he could help. So for the last couple of months, not only has Simon mown it meticulously but also Bob Rowley has generously joined him in strimming all the other things, over the older graves and around the edges of the churchyard, and even braving the jungle of nettles and strange other things growing at the back.
It looks magnificent, and many graves on the east side have come into view, including that of A.S. Hartrick, who wrote so movingly and affectionately about the years he and his (older) wife Lily Blatherwick spent here, living where Nigel and Mary are now. They were both artists, and later moved to London as her poor health could not take another winter here, but they left their hearts here as they had loved it so much. When Lily died, her remains were buried here, and Hartrick put up the memorial both to her and to himself, in anticipation of his future death as they had no children who would be able to do this for him. If you look, you will see that there is no date for his death, but I have been told that his niece brought his ashes here to be interred with Lily. He died in February 1950, aged 85.
Hartrick’s autobiography is available in paperback, ’A painter’s Pilgrimage through 50 years’ and has been described as a minor classic; it has a most interesting chapter on their life in Tresham as well as other references. There are reproductions of some of his pictures including one of ‘The Wassail Bowl at Tresham’, something we may one day decide to celebrate, too. I saw the original book on display at an exhibition of Vincent van Gogh in London a few years ago, showing Hartrick’s drawing of his friend from his Paris days on the frontispiece. In the book there is a description of the work he organised in the chancel of our church, in memory of all those buried at Tresham over many hundreds of years who had no memorial of their own. It is the right of anyone living in a parish, or being on the electoral roll of a parish, to be buried or have their ashes interred there (assuming the churchyard is ‘open’ for burials, as ours is), and it is an important feature of our community in terms of its history as well as its resting place, and a place we can all enjoy.
The church is now open during the day, so you can see the work Hartrick refers to. There is a list of all those who donated to the work on the wall by the steps to the little pulpit they made at the time, as well as the fuller description he made of all the work after it was finished, for future Tresham residents to know about it. At the moment, masks should be worn in the church if there is anyone else there who is not in your bubble; please be covid secure. There is hand sanitiser in the porch.
So – a very big thank you to Richard for all he has done in the past, and to Simon and Bob for what they are doing now. If anyone would like to join in and help them, I am sure they would be delighted to welcome you. Please contact Simon.
Our plans for the area around the church include encouraging wild flowers by planting yellow rattle seed, which should help the wildflowers by weakening the grass. Tom Hatherall has very kindly offered to donate some yellow rattle seed for this; planting will ideally take place in the autumn after a close cut, and over time we can enjoy their yellow flowers and attractively-shaped leaves as well as other seeds getting a chance to germinate and grow successfully. It is my hope that the churchyard will become an even lovelier place of tranquillity as well as somewhere full of insects to encourage a more diverse ecology in the area in every way, giving food for birds and pollinators for flowers. Jenny Burden has very kindly agreed to be our Eco champion on this, and is very well qualified and connected to bring us advice. Anyone interested in helping in learning about, teaching about, and improving the ecosystem in the churchyard or elsewhere in Tresham, please contact Jenny or me.