A scheme to transform the historic – but deteriorating – graveyard of St Augustine’s Church into a “heritage and habitat project” ( new kind of environmental public park) has received as “Start Up Grant” of £8,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The grant will enable volunteer members of the Habitat and Heritage Group to begin the work of transforming the churchyard into a “centre to which people can come to learn, look and relax”.
The project has three main aims:-
- to protect and enhance the natural environment
- to conserve and restore some of the graves whilst taking full account of the prime purpose of the area as a burial ground
- the third is to promote the churchyard as an important outdoor educational and recreational area for local residents, schools, visitors and the wider community.
Chair of the Habitat and Heritage Group, Andrew Davison says “this is a fantastic boost and the grant will enable us to get on with the preparatory survey work which is essential before we involve the local community more fully. We are very aware that this site is of great historical and environmental importance and we have a responsibility to record its history and make better use of the site as a place of environmental interest. It is a huge project, but this news has enabled us to make a start with confidence”.
St Augustine’s churchyard is hundreds of years older than St Augustine’s Church itself [the previous mediaeval church was demolished to make way for the present one] and occupies the highest point of Penarth Headland with far-reaching views towards Cardiff and the mountains beyond.
An ecological survey carried out last year revealed that the area is home to many plant-species, birds, insects and some rare lichen. Among those of local interest buried in the churchyard are the famous Welsh composer, Joseph Parry and the well-known local brewers the Brain family.
The money has all essentially come from National Lottery players who’ve bought tickets and – in an outcome familiar to many – have lost . Only half of the amount paid for every ticket is actually paid out in prize money.
St Augustines has also been awarded a £1,000 from the Allchurches Trust towards the costs of grass cutting in the churchyard. Every full cut costs over £1,000 because it has to be done mainly with strimmers rather than mowers.