Cemeteries have an emotional pull for most people, they may be where our families are laid to rest, or where the graves of people we admire can be found, or simply a place to sit and contemplate in peace. What cemeteries should not be is uncared for.

Images of the Cemetery on 15th Nov 2023

Copyright Phil Lee

When people have died there is often an urge to remember them through the things they appreciated when they were alive. This can lead to people decorating graves in acceptable ways like choice of headstone or it might express itself by having a grave facing the sort of view they would love; it is sad when for one reason or another graveyards become places that feel unloved.

The dead and their mourners have to be good neighbours to each other if the solemnity of the space is to be ensured, which is why there are rules in place about how people can be commemorated. Most people understand and accept those rules but having done so it can then feel disrespectful if the authorities don’t do the same and the area becomes unkempt.

This is why the Vision Group for Sidmouth has decided to initiate a group which will respectfully listen to people’s opinions and then try to improve the current situation in many of the local cemeteries which no-one finds acceptable.

Some people like cemeteries which look like Military Cemeteries for those fallen in battle with regimented lines and neat, close mown turf; but that has not been the way parish churchyards have developed through time. In those churchyards there is a different character; where the place people have been buried has been influenced by many factors and lines may not be straight. These second sorts of burial places lend themselves more to creating a garden effect where wildlife is welcomed in, understanding and appreciating that we are all part of nature, somewhere where there is abundance not sterility. This effect can not be obtained through neglect but only through careful stewardship, which is what we think Sidmouth Cemeteries deserve.

The aim of Cherishing Sidmouth Cemeteries is simple, to have graveyards which are managed but not manicured.