St Mary’s churchyard is the biggest green space in Walthamstow Village and one of the biggest green spaces in Central Walthamstow. It is divided into several sections, including a large area along Vinegar Alley between the Monoux Almshouses and Holy Family Catholic School. In addition to being an ancient graveyard and a place where people still remember loved ones, it’s a working garden site, home to several local and national biodiversity projects, and a haven for bees, insects, birds, bats and animals.
Led by our head gardener Tim Hewitt and assisted by John Fairlamb, dozens of local volunteers have in recent years helped make St Mary’s Churchyard a place where Walthamstow gathers to learn about horticulture and wildlife, to plant flowers, and to spend time admiring the diverse range of plants and natural features that make the churchyard such a peaceful place to be (there are also several benches on which to sit in the main bit of the churchyard, which is the area between the church and Ancient House).
St Mary’s offers weekly supervised volunteering in the churchyard at these times:
Tuesdays: 1pm to 3.30pm
Wednesdays: 1pm to 4pm
Thursdays: 1pm to 4pm
Fridays: 1pm to 4pm
If you would like to volunteer, there’s no need to book; just turn up, preferably with your own gardening gloves if you have them. Tools and expert instruction will be provided!
The churchyard has bat boxes, beehives maintained by BEE17 Honey (a local non-profit), an RHS-sponsored pond maintained by local volunteers, an ongoing partnership with the award-winning gardening group, Walthamstow Village in Bloom, and we continue to host the successful ‘Burials in Bloom’ project where local gardeners ‘adopt a grave’ – one that is no longer visited – to tend and plant around.
The churchyard also has compost heaps, as well as cold frames where new plants are grown; head gardener Tim Hewitt has plans to increase the number of educational opportunities in horticulture in the years to come, especially thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of our Creative Church regeneration project. In recent years, the churchyard has been part of the Chelsea Fringe flower show, has hosted seed swaps and a small flower market, and is the focal point of a local history tour, run at various times in warmer months, with opportunities to learn more about the lives of the people buried in the churchyard and to explore some of the churchyard’s listed monuments.
To get involved with our Burials in Bloom project, or to enquire about other gardening or educational opportunities in the churchyard, please email head gardener Tim Hewitt at email@example.com, check out the blog on the main page of our website, or visit the bulletin board which is fixed to a tree in the main churchyard, near the churchyard gate and not far from the Ancient House. We believe the churchyard is a great gift to the community, and we’re always keen to get more people involved in caring for, and spending time in, this special area.