"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Winter in a Country Churchyard

I went along to a local churchyard one afternoon last week in search of my first snowdrops of the year.

St John the Baptist at Lea Marston dates back to the 1300's, the porch is 15th century and the chancel and tower were rebuilt in the 1870's. I've never been inside the church as it is kept locked due to a number of thefts that have taken place in the past.

I did find a few clumps of snowdrops in flower around the churchyard.

I wondered if this was the base of what used to be a churchyard cross?

Tomb covered in ivy and brambles. The churchyard is quite a haven for wildlife being surrounded on 2 sides by woodland and in the summer there is a wildflower meadow at the back of the churchyard full of flowers, such as Betony, and buzzing with bees and butterflies.

I spent a lot of time looking at mosses and lichens growing on the tombstones. The mosses in particular looked like miniature worlds.

I've put a few of the moss photos on i-spot and have received some help with id. The species at the bottom of the photo above could be Wall screw-moss (Tortula muralis) and the species in the background towards the top may be Capillary Thread-moss (Bryum capillare)

I think this species (also to be seen in the top two pics) is Grey-cushioned Grimmia (Grimmia pulvinata) and several people have agreed with this id.

Common Feather-moss (Kindbergia praelonga)?

This species could be Bryum dichotomum


I spoke to a couple as I was leaving who mentioned that there was a female yew at the back of the churchyard - so I may go back and check for flowers later this month. They also kindly told me of a local site for Toothwort which I will be checking out later in the year.

I've not spotted this sundial on previous visits.

I've seen lots of Hazel catkins this year but these were the first female flowers, looking like miniature sea-anemones, that I have seen.

This memorial marks a visit by William Gladstone in 1895. It used to have a plaque but was removed after someone tried to steal it!!

If you would like to see my previous visit to the churchyard during summer months please click here

In that post I mentioned I would try to visit the churchyard more often sadly I think this was my first visit since that post! but I will try and go more regularly this year.

Many thanks to i-spot for id help and for confirmation of Grey-cushioned Grimmia.