An area of the Churchyard in 2004
Our Churchyard is an important resource for both church and the wider community. Enjoy a stroll around our extensive churchyard following the Nature Trail or History Trail (see below).
The trails were devised by Dave McPherson and Rod Webb, and were funded with a grant from the East Stoke and Wool Community Chest. You can borrow laminated copies of the trail sheets from the leaflet dispenser near the main entrance to the churchyard, or download the pdf versions here.
The Expanding Churchyard
Until the 1920s, the churchyard occupied only the immediate environs of the church, up to the line of the footpath to the war memorial. It was subsequently enlarged southwards in two stages to the old boundary.
A new extension was proposed as Wool has continued to expand and spaces were becoming restricted. The land concerned had kindly been donated to the Parochial Church Council (PCC) of Wool & East Stoke by the Lulworth Estate and permission for a change of use was granted by Purbeck District Council. Holy Rood bore both parties’ legal costs for the transfer of ownership.
The churchyard maintenance team applied to the Woodland Trust for an initial box of 100 native tree saplings which we planted out to form the hedgerow in November 2012. (A year later, the Trust offered us a further quantity, so we were able to double up along the whole length of the new boundary.)
So our new Churchyard Extension began to take shape on 10th November 2012 when members of the Holy Rood church maintenance team marked out the boundary and planted over 100 trees.
This new boundary marks the third extension to the churchyard in less than 100 years, and the extra land should provide sufficient burial space for at least the next 40 years.
The new extension was consecrated on Sunday 28th May 2017, by the Bishop of Sherborne, Rt Revd Karen Gorham. There are some photos here.
The Churchyard Extension today
Every one of those tiny “whips” that the team planted back then has grown vigorously to maturity – that includes the “Royal Oak” from the Prince of Wales’ estate at Highgrove, half way along the boundary and identified by a small green plaque.
Nowadays, a path has now been laid to the new churchyard extension. (This was paid for from the Building Fund.)
And as the picture below shows, in place of the bare earth with its marker lines and box of seedlings and tiny plants, we now have a lush hedgerow along the top boundary of the churchyard. Most of the shrubs have been clipped back to a height of about 6ft, but some have been left to grow into full-size trees. It’s hard to believe that, 8 years ago, this was just a part of the Weld Estate farmland, and we were in the process of negotiating with them for the transfer of land to form our churchyard extension.
And finally . . .
The PCC is grateful for the ongoing support of Wool Parish Council over many years, in the care and maintenance of this large churchyard, which ensures it is both a haven for wildlife and a much valued amenity for the local community as a whole.