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The Churchyard

The site of St. Mary's was originally Glebe land and, in the mid-19th Century, it was given to the then Parish Church of St. Lawrence for a burial ground - this was before the road existed. The new church of St. Mary's was built on the site to cater for the growing population. A 1955 survey indicates that very few burials took place before the new church was consecrated. However, in the next forty years the graveyard filled rapidly, and there were again relatively few burials after 1900.

Not much is known about the next forty years. During and after World War 2 the site was neglected and became a tangle of brambles and nettles. The story goes that Londoners got on their bikes to come and pick the blackberries!. A Mr. Bill Ottaway then worked hard for many years, restoring order and planting and caring for roses near the Guardsmen's graves. The garden shed was virtually his second home.

By 1990 his health was failing and in 1991 a small group took on the area to the east of the Chancel. Ironically, just after clearing the protective screen of brambles, the church was burgled several times. This area was then developed as a garden area with grass paths, shrubs, perennials and, of course, tombstones!

West Front of Church

1994 brought some ambitious changes. It was agreed to develop all the southern area of the site for conservation. A number of dangerous conifers were felled, and the whole area was cleared. A planned planting session took place in 1995: native trees, shrubs and flowering plants were laid between islands of long grass and wild flowers. Mown paths led one through the whole garden.

Amazingly, most of the money for all this work came from personal donations and fund-raising events. Some funding was also provided by Tandridge District Council and the Shell Britain Campaign.

 

The next big milestone was the Millenium. To celebrate this event, a yew tree was planted on the East boundary. It was rather fun since this tree was propagated as a cutting from one of the existing trees in the church yard, so its genetic material was already 150 years old!

The work in the churchyard, as in any garden, is on-going and we have a great team of volunteers. They work alternate Saturday mornings for, as all Alan Titchmarsh fans know, a wild garden is not a neglected garden.

There are many types of flowers in the churchyard, both wild and cultivated. You can see here, a photo gallery of the spring flowers.  It is also a haven for wildlife.

If you wish to know more, or would like to join our team, contact the Churchyard Conservation Group through John Gilbert (01883 340115) or via the contact us page.

1996 brought the introduction of the Garden of Remembrance, in response to an identified need for the Interment of Ashes.

Information on the occupancy of the graves in the churchyard can be found here.

Interesting Tombs:  

Asprey Family

Samuel Gibson

West Front

Garden of Remembrance

Garden of Remembrance