Discovering St Leonards

One of my favourite places to take a local walk is in the burial ground of St Leonard’s in Ludlow. The grounds are now a naturalised area for people to enjoy nature and wildlife, an attractive environment that residents and visitors alike can enjoy. There are many trees including Yew trees which were grown to make bows, but as the berries are poisonous to animals (and humans), the trees had to be grown in places like churchyards where animals were excluded.

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There are also some ageing Lawson’s Cypresses and self-sown Sycamores and Horse-Chestnuts. A large number of birds, butterflies and a colony of rabbits live in the grounds and there are many benches on which to sit and rest and enjoy the birdsong and the countryside views, as well as a few picnic tables and benches situated in a grass clearing.

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I love to wander around the monuments and select interesting carvings, words, shapes to photograph. Often hidden by clumps of stinging nettles and moss or lichens each time I visit I see something different.

Perhaps some of you may find it creepy to enjoy a walk amongst graves, but I always find burial grounds so peaceful and relaxing and interesting. I like to imagine the lives of people who have gone before me.

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St Leonard’s was first opened in August 1824 when it was clear that the old medieval cemetery was completely full. Space finally ran out during WWI and today the site contains 1400 gravestones, which have been recorded and now provides an important historical document. The site includes five listed war graves, all of which are now accessible to view.  These are recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

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The monuments have remained in place despite repeated threats to clear the land over the years and the recording process not only recovered the texts of the inscriptions, but also demonstrated the order in which the graves were laid out showing how local social hierarchy and the ability to pay determined where the graves were placed.

The site has a long history. In 1349 the area was part of six medieval burgage plots held by Laurence de Ludlow, lord of nearby Stokesay Castle. Laurence founded a convent of Carmelite friars which continued on the site until its suppression by Henry VIII in 1538. The buildings were sold and demolished.

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The Victorian building, (above) was formerly the chapel of rest and designed by George Gilbert Scott, an English Gothic revival architect, and opened in February 1871.

If you enjoy a walk, long or short, then have a look at Jo’s site where you are welcome to join in.

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Heyjude

I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

61 thoughts on “Discovering St Leonards”

  1. Grockles? What sort of word is that??? I burst out laughing halfway though (no disrespect to the deceased) because I’d already thought ‘creepy’ before I got to your link. 🙂 Having said that, it is an interesting one and we can’t all go racing high and low, can we? I’m still holding out hope for Florence, by the way! 🙂
    I do sometimes loiter in churchyards and yes, I liked your juxtaposition of robin and lichen too 🙂 Many thanks for the link, Jude.

    1. So glad you enjoyed it Jo! This place does in fact appear in a ghostly story by a local author Phil Rickman, so I probably wouldn’t want to walk through here at midnight!

  2. I don’t find it creepy at all Jude. Like you I love imagining the lives that came to rest in these old cemeteries. The lichen and moss give the stones such mystery. Lovely captures as usual.

    1. Thanks Sue. I am glad that people care enough about the place to keep it clear. I like to find details and elements on the headstones, they used to be very ornate, unlike modern ones.

  3. Very atmospheric! The overgrown part of the graveyard looks like something from an old Hammer Horror. It’s beautiful, but a bit creepy. I’ll bet it’s a scary place to walk at night.

    1. I wouldn’t know. See previous comment reply to Jo…

      I used to cut through a graveyard to get home from a disco when I was 17, I didn’t linger though.

      1. Oh, yes. I see. It’s interesting that it was used in ghost stories by a local author.

        I don’t believe in ghosts, but I’m still not sure I would take a shortcut through a graveyard at night. It’s not the dead that bother me but the living.

        1. I’m not in to ghosts either, but I have become rather fond of this writer and his supernatural / historical novels, especially as they take place around the area I live in. There are some places I am a little nervous to visit now 😉

  4. I also find old graveyards really fascinating, and read the tombstones as though I were actually looking for someone I once knew. This one looks well cared for. Beautiful photos, Jude. 🙂

  5. I like cemeteries and this one is really interesting, I should have known you would too. I recently took photos of the tree trail in my local one, to blog when I get time.

  6. For a minute there, I thought you’d found your private jet and popped over to my neck of the woods. Wrong St Leonards.

    I love cemeteries. I find them fascinating places to wander. Absolutely adore the photos of the moss growing in the etched words. (Or is it lichen? How do you tell? Well, it’s pretty whatever it is.)

  7. So nice to see a well tended cemetery. They are very sad when the stones are toppled an no one from the family is left to tend them. Some nice photos!

    1. Thank you. There are some toppled stones here and others where the surface has sheared off so the inscription can no longer be read, but all the graves have been recorded so that’s a good thing.

  8. Such an interesting place to wander around and some great photos you have taken I like the overgrown part with the beautiful back lighting and of course that cheeky little robin. You could link this to Ailsa’s mellow theme too.

  9. A delightful walk this Jude and not in the least bit creepy…and of course, old Henry VIII is at it again. Lovely photos 🙂

    1. Aye, good old Henry has a lot to answer for. I bet this place is a bit eerie at night though. And there is one spot where several yew trees meet that I don’t much like even in daylight.

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