The Devon branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England is seeking Devon’s Best Churchyard of 2019 and is inviting churches of all denominations to enter the competition, now in its 2nd year.
Devon’s churchyards form part of the county’s rich and varied landscape. They are much more than burial grounds. They are unique and special places. Green havens of sanctuary for people and wildlife. Some little changed over the centuries.
“Devon has hundreds of churchyards and they are beautiful places,” says Penny Mills, Director of CPRE Devon. “That’s why we thought it would be a really good idea to celebrate them and to celebrate the people that look after them because they are all volunteers and they all do a fantastic job.”
CPRE Devon held the competition for the first time last year, attracting eighteen entries. The conservation charity hopes even more churches will enter this year. The judges are not seeking the most pristine or manicured churchyards. They are looking for those which are well managed to provide both a peaceful haven for people and wildlife. Each entry is visited by the judges and assessed on a range of criteria.
Last year’s winner was the parish church of St Andrew’s in South Tawton. Set in a spectacular location, just inside the northern edge of Dartmoor National Park and at the heart of the picturesque village, the churchyard has far-reaching views of the open moor. However, it wasn’t the setting which most impressed CPRE Devon’s judges when they visited. It was all the work that had been done to create, in their words, “An amazing and revealing place with a lot of evidence of management for wildlife… an area that gives off an atmosphere of tranquillity and contemplation.”
Could your local churchyard be this year’s winner? There’s a top prize of £200 and a beautiful plaque from sustainable wood, made in Devon, for the winner and runners-up to proudly display in their churchyard. For full details and an entry form, go to