Devon’s Best Churchyard Competition 2023 – Results!

Many Congratulations to St Michael’s, Alphington – this year’s Best Churchyard in Devon.

A churchyard in the suburbs of Exeter has won the accolade of Devon CPRE’s Best
Churchyard 2023. St Michael’s Church in Alphington was named the winner at an
awards ceremony held as part of our charity’s AGM at RHS Rosemoor
in Torrington. Selaine Saxby MP (North Devon) did the honours, presenting the winning team with
an oak plaque and a cheque for £200.

Head Judge, Devon CPRE trustee Ivan Buxton, praised St Michael’s saying, “It was
one of the first churchyards we went to this year and our visit happened to coincide
with a day when volunteers were working in the churchyard. We were extremely
impressed with everything they had done and their enthusiasm was second to none.”

He added, “We are very proud of this competition because it has made such a
difference in so many communities, both rural and urban, where some churchyards
were somewhat neglected. We really congratulate everyone who has entered.”

The Rector of Alphington, Mike Partridge, accepted the award along with churchyard
volunteers Reg and Denise Williams. Mr Williams said, “It’s quite astonishing really.
We came to the awards presentation more in hope than expectation. We thought we
might be commended for the effort we’re making but winning has taken us
completely by surprise, and we’re delighted.”

This is the sixth year of the competition. Once again the two judges, Ivan Buxton and
Penny Mills, travelled the length and breadth of the county visiting the wide range of entries.
Entrants are marked on a range of criteria including their
initiatives to encourage wildlife (for example, installing bird or bat boxes, bug hotels,
hedgehog houses and ponds) and to make peaceful spots for people to pause and
appreciate nature. But it’s not a competition to see who has the most bird boxes or
benches! Other ways to encourage wildlife, for example, include sensitive mowing
and composting regimes and the maintenance of trees and hedgerows.

This year, both runners up, also new entries – St Mary’s at Dunsford and St John the Baptist at
Bishops Tawton – had set up larders to provide food for local people during the cost
of living crisis, which impressed the judges. Penny said, “We have thoroughly enjoyed visiting all the 2023
entries, including many new ones. It’s been wonderful to see how Devon’s
churchyards have evolved and improved since we started this competition six years
ago. With such a high standard, it’s been a tough job deciding the winners this year
and so we’ve made some additional awards in 2023 because so many entries have
been so good.
“Devon’s churchyards are often at the heart of communities and their upkeep and
maintenance rely on the hard work of volunteers. We hope our annual awards go
some way towards recognising all they do and saying thank you.” Congratulations to them all.

See our film of the awards ceremony –

2023 results:
Winners’ plaques awarded to:
● St Michael’s, Alphington, Exeter – Winner
● St Mary’s, Dunsford, Dartmoor – Joint runner up
● St John the Baptist, Bishops Tawton, North Devon – Joint runner up
Special certificates awarded to:
● All Saints, East Budleigh, East Devon – Exemplary Award for Consistently
High Achievement
● St David’s, Ashprington, South Hams – Best New Entry
● Gulliford Burial Ground, Lympstone, East Devon – Most Original Entry
● Holy Trinity, Buckfastleigh, South Hams – Excellence
● St. Swithun’s, Woodbury, East Devon – Excellence

Certificates of Commendation went to:
● St John the Baptist, Plymtree
● St Michael's, Trusham
● St John the Baptist, Broadclyst
● All Saints, Kenton
Certificates of Merit went to:
● St Thomas Church, Cowick, Exeter
● St Peter’s, Dalwood
● St Andrews, Moretonhampstead
● St John the Baptist Church, Chittlehamholt
● St Hieritha’s, Chittlehampton
● St Boniface Church, Okehampton
● St Marys, Hemyock
● St Andrews, Clyst Hydon
● Colyton Cemetery
● St Mary & St Peters, Salcombe Regis
● St Michaels, Kingsteignton
● St James the Great, Talaton
● St John the Baptist, Meshaw