The amount of land around a Church can vary from a concrete yard to an extensive churchyard which, in many cases, will once have been part of a species-rich ancient pasture or meadowland. A churchyard should, of course, be a pleasant, reflective place for its congregation and visitors but there's no reason why it shouldn't also be a valuable ecological habitat - a haven for grasses, wildflowers, trees, birds, butterflies, moths and other wild creatures.
UTB runs an annual Churchyard Butterfly Survey and several of our surveyors have been working with church wardens for a number of years to create a working churchyard management plan, and this is being rewarded by an increased number of butterfly species recorded there.
If you are interested in joining a survey team (or starting a new one), please contact the Churchyard Survey Co-ordinator.

Churchyard Management Plan

The following are some basic guidelines for churchyard management, designed to be sensitive towards the needs of both people and wildlife. With the churchwarden's approval, the Churchyard Management Plan could be displayed in the Church, maybe with a few photos, to show that the churchyard is a beautiful place to visit as well as being beneficial to wildlife.

Grass Cutting

All grass cuttings should be removed. They improve the fertility of the soil, which is usually not required by wild flowers.
Paths and other well-used areas probably need to be mown as often as a lawn. Grass around infrequently visited gravestones can be cut less often, to a height of about 3 inches (7cm). If possible, do not mow these areas from May to mid-July, to allow a good variety of plants to flower and set seed.
Mown paths through longer areas of grass will guide visitors through the "wildlife areas" and show them that it is part of a properly managed churchyard. Rarely visited areas could be mown once a year in late September to allow a good variety of plants to grow. Longer areas of grass will be used by breeding "brown" butterflies, numerous moths and other creatures and the flowering plants within the grass by many more, making these areas the most productive part of a wildlife churchyard.


Try not to use artificial fertilisers, insecticides, herbicides and other chemicals.

Ivy and Nettles

Ivy should be left untrimmed where possible. It is one of the main foodplants of the Holly Blue (along with Holly). It provides bird nesting sites during March to July and is a nectar source for butterflies and other insects in late summer and autumn.
Nettles in a sunny position will support Comma, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Painted Lady, Red Admiral and many moth species.


Ideally any new trees should be native species, and planted where they will not shade out wildflower areas in years to come.

Submitting Records

Churchyard records should be sent to the Churchyard Survey Co-ordinator. Please use the spreadsheet to submit your records if possible. The Co-ordinator will pass gardens records on to the Butterfly Records Officer.

List of Surveyed Churchyards

The following is a list of the 67 churchyards and cemeteries being surveyed at March 2017:
Berkshire (12) Buckinghamshire (29) Oxfordshire (26)
Burghfield, St Mary
Cookham, Holy Trinity
Easthampstead, Bracknell
Grazeley, Holy Trinity
Padworth, Berks
Stratfield Mortimer, St Mary
Streatley, St Mary
Sulhamstead Abbots
Tilehurst, St Michael
Upper Woolhampton
Wargrave cemetery
Wargrave, St Mary
Aston Abbotts, St James
Bierton, St James
Buckland, All Saints
Cheddington, St Giles
Colnbrook, St Thomas
Cublington, St Nicholas
Denham, St Mary
Drayton Beauchamp
Dunton, St Martin
East Claydon, St Mary
Ellesborough, SS Peter & Paul
Halton, St Michael
Hardwick, St Mary
Hartwell, St Mary
Hedgerley, St Mary the Virgin
Hulcott, All Saints
Iver, St Peter
Middle Claydon, All Saints
Monks Risborough cemetery
Pitstone, St Mary
Stewkley, St Michael
Stoke Mandeville, St Mary
Stoke Poges, St Giles
Stone, St John
Wendover, St Mary
Weston Turville, St Mary
Whitchurch, St John Evangelist
Wing, All Saints
Wingrave, SS Peter & Paul
Benson, St Helen
Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, St Agatha
Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, St James
Checkendon, SS Peter & Paul
Cholsey, St Mary
Crowmarsh Gifford, St Mary Magdalen
Dry Sandford, St Helen
Garsington, St Mary
Goring, St Thomas
Henley, Holy Trinity
Moulsford, St John the Baptist
Newnham Murren, St Mary
North Hinksey, St Lawrence
North Stoke, St Mary
Oxford, SS Mary & John
Oxford, St Frideswide
Oxford, St Margaret Binsey
Oxford, St Mary Iffley
Oxford, St Peter Upper Wolvercote
South Hinksey, St Lawrence
Stanford in the Vale, St Denys
Sunningwell, St Leonard
Wallingford, Memorial Chapels
Wallingford, St Leonard
Whitchurch Hill, St John the Baptist
Wootton, St Peter