St Peter & St Paul’s Churchyard Revival
‘To everything there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under heaven;
a time to be born, a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to uproot…..’
The Doomsday book shows that a church has existed in Aldeburgh since Saxon times.
Agnes Neve left a will in 1476 asking to be buried in Aldeburgh Churchyard. 1558 holds the oldest existing records for the register of baptisms, marriages and deaths. In 1824 part of the churchyard was taken by the town to make the road. In 2005 the church office, which used to be a sailors’ mortuary was renovated.
Aldeburgh Church and its surrounding churchyard are steeped in history and has many visitors but over the years the foliage has grown and matured – for the most part, non- interfered with. This has resulted in areas of almost dense woodland shutting out the sun, weakening tree health and allowing extensive masses of brambles and weeds to take over, covering up graves whilst tree roots both damage and destroy from beneath.
So, the time has come, and the autumn season is upon us to start making changes to beautify the churchyard – to transform it from a dark passage we scurry through, into a picturesque, peaceful place of tranquility – filled with sunlight and birdsong.
There is a small group of volunteers, passionate to turn this into reality with a five year plan.
Work commenced mid-September 2020 and thus far a complete plan of the churchyard has been made by an appointed consultant arborist who has named and tagged all the trees and made recommendations on tree health. His report is being submitted to the county tree officer who will approve any major tree surgery felt necessary.
Already many tree canopies have been lifted, masses of scrub and brambles removed and epicormic growth, which occurs when a tree or plant is under stress, has been cut down. The derelict shed, old lean-to and scrub next to the office have been removed. This area will be landscaped and reseeded to allow mowing.
A mixed variety of ‘native hedging’ has been ordered with an assortment of plants producing seasonal colour, with flowers and berries which will also provide the perfect structure to support nesting birds. This will replace the epicormic growth area between the Sycamores which form the churchyard boundary with Church Close.
Attractive flint and stone walls have been revealed as the group have worked tirelessly together to remove stubborn climbers.
Over fifty long lost graves have been discovered under brambles and many inches of damp leaf mould, one dating back to 1689! These graves show an interesting history as to the positions in the community their occupants once held in Aldeburgh, from customs collectors, surgeons, mayors and even Henry Dowler the vicar’s memorial (1839-1874) is now standing proudly.
The hope is that over the coming months and years, the churchyard (which is in a conservation area) will be tastefully restored to become an ecologically friendly, green, sunlit haven with bulbs planted, insect hotels built, and bird/bat boxes mounted.
Visitors will be able to stroll through the churchyard as if through open parkland, with easy access to find graves and a clear view of the sea to the east.
Especially in this challenging time of Covid-19 we know how beneficial it is to both mental and physical health to be outside in close contact with nature.
….’The kiss of the sun for pardon
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth’…..
From ‘God’s Garden’ by Dorothy Frances Gurney
We would love to have more people on board to help with our venture in any small way they can. We can then continue to make improvements and maintain our churchyard for our community and all of its visitors.
If you would like to join our team, please do get in contact by visiting the church website using the contact form, or email
Here are some pictures of the work that has taken place already. These will be updated as the team continue their work. We cannot thank them enough for their hard work and dedication to this never ending project. Special thanks to Nigel Howcutt, Mike Shepherd, Ken Smith, Karen Thackeray, Derek Cook and Adrian Brown.