SIR - The management of churchyards is contentious and a regular complaint is that long grass causes falls and prevents the placing of flowers and the search for inscriptions

Another complaint is that soil from fresh graves is left on another grave before our willing volunteers can move it for re-use later (graves sink in the rain and the soil is consecrated).

Churchyards are primarily places of rest and, as they are consecrated (set apart solely for sacred purposes) everything in them comes under the jurisdiction of “the Ordinary” (usually a Diocesan Bishop) not the family concerned.

However, with changes in farming methods, churchyards are now managed as habitats for wildflowers and insects who are on their way to find even rarer hay meadows.

The church acts as a vital link to these fields but it means cutting the grass regularly only until Easter, like sheep, then scything and raking in August.

In Langcliffe, Stainforth and Horton for example just five volunteers contribute days every week to manage large churchyards.

Horton Parish Council generously contributes one cut but prefers to leave its own Burial Ground semi-wild, citing scarce resources.

So although I understand your correspondent’s frustration his letter will have greatly disheartened the volunteers in Giggleswick who work all year in all weathers to manage formal beds, wildflower sections and yes, some wildness for bees and butterflies.

I thank them and all in our Deanery who work so hard.

I appeal to other parish councils and parish meetings to use their powers to support churches and volunteers who are providing a facility for the whole community (Local Government Act 1972, section 214:6)? The Government is keen that this overrides the 1894 Act.

Stephen Dawson, Area Dean, Bowland & Ewecross, The Vicarage, Giggleswick