The Old Churchyard has been the responsibility of Arborfield and Newland Parish Council since the 1950s, and until recently, vegetation has been kept down by sheep grazing among the gravestones. Unfortunately, they can damage the site, and they don't prevent trees from encroaching.
In 2011, members of Arborfield Local History Society and other volunteers formed working parties to improve the Old Churchyard and conserve what's left of the church ruins and the old boundary wall. Health and Safety considerations mean that the church ruins can't be accessed in the way that they were in 2004, when the ivy was last trimmed back. It seems to be the only thing holding the remains in place!
The work to be undertaken will vary from visit to visit, but we endeavour to make sure that there is a wide selection of tasks available to suit all abilities. These will probably range from ground clearance (requiring spades and forks) to cleaning old gravestones and trimming overgrown bushes which will require small hand tools and secateurs.
The last Working Party for 2012 is shown below. Working Parties will be suspended until the New Year in order that contractors, working on behalf of the Parish Council, can fence the site and make repairs to the boundary wall.
Listed below are the tasks which we plan to carry out during this session:-
Please ensure that you wear old clothing, suitable footwear and bring a pair of gardening gloves. We would also appreciate it if you could also bring a your own gardening tools along with such things as a kneeling mat. Power tools are specifically prohibited by the insurance company.
If you have a green recycling bag, or similar, it might be useful to bring that along to carry rubbish from where you are working to the site boundary.
You will also need to bring your own refreshments - and please also be aware that there are no toilet facilities on site.
THE INSURANCE COMPANY NOW INSIST THAT ALL VOLUNTEERS WEAR A HARD HAT WHILE ON SITE. IF YOU DON’T HAVE YOUR OWN WE WILL HAVE SIX AVAILABLE ON SITE BUT PLEASE REMEMBER TO RETURN THEM AT THE END OF THE SESSION.
For those who are unaware of the exact location of the Old Churchyard it is located within the Hall Farm complex off the A327 Arborfield Road. Travelling from Arborfield village towards Reading on the A327, turn into the Hall Farm entrance immediately before crossing the River Loddon.
The security system has recently changed. When you arrive at the gate please press the “Security” button alongside the keypad. When the security officer answers please tell them your name and that you are from the Arborfield Local History Society and are visiting the Old Churchyard site to carry out voluntary work. They will then give you the four digit code. Make a note of this as you will need it again when you leave.
Tony Harden, Chairman, ALHS.
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