Natural History

 

The original burial ground attached to Hampstead Parish Church and the Additional Burial Ground were designated as a Site of Nature Conservation Importance (borough importance grade 1) in November 2003. They are excellent places for wildlife and provide a refuge for many different species of plants and animals. 

 

Trees – There are a number of fine, mature trees – including Cedar of Lebanon, yew, horse-chestnut, beech, holm oak and sycamore – and dense planted shrubberies.

Grasses – The grassland areas in the Additional Burial Ground contain species that are indicative of old, slightly acidic meadowland (maybe even the original field habitat from 200 years ago) – including perennial rye-grass, sweet vernal-grass, field wood-rush and sheep’s-sorrel.

Wildflowers – There are well over 100 different flowering species in the Additional Burial Ground including white clover, creeping buttercup and agrimony.

Other vegetation – The tall herb vegetation is diverse and well established, and includes a number of types of fern – in particular hart’s-tongue and the uncommon lady-fern, as well as numerous species of mosses and lichens.

Fauna – It is also home to birds (nuthatch, long-tailed tits, wrens and jays), bats (noctule, common and soprano pipistrelle), and butterflies (gatekeeper and speckled wood).

 

Life and Death in Hampstead project

In 2009 the Heritage Lottery Fund recognised the ecological and historic importance of this site, and awarded a 3 year grant to Camden Council in partnership with Hampstead Parish Church to restore some of the historic graves, improve accessibility and habitat management, and use the site for guided walks, education sessions and other events.

 

Wildlife conservation

To encourage wildflowers the site is mown infrequently during the summer months. Gravestones with lichens and mosses are left untouched, where possible, and areas of ivy and bramble kept undisturbed to provide habitats for birds, bats and invertebrates.

If you want to find out more about the wildlife in the graveyard visit the London Borough of Camden ‘Life and Death in Hampstead’ site.

 

Why churchyards are generally good for wildlife

Churchyards can be excellent places for wildlife for two crucial reasons: They provide a quiet refuge for wildlife, away from houses and streets; and they can often be one of the few patches of uncultivated land, untouched by chemical fertilisers and pesticides. In addition older churchyards are a remnant of older habitats – perhaps ancient meadows that were used for hay or grazing animals long before the church itself was built.

 

This page was last updated on April 26th, 2012.

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