This beautiful bug landed while we were sitting on our new benches in the churchyard. It was quite large, and looked like a beautiful bee of some kind, so we photographed it, and looked it up later. It turns out to be a Hornet Mimic Hoverfly (Volcella zonaria), which used to be rare, but are becoming more widespread in the south of England. They like to inhabit meadows close to forests, so our churchyard meadow area is a good place for them. They can be spotted between May and September. Beautiful!
8th August 2021
Pew Heating Project
During the latter part of 2020 and the first months of 2021, the PCC has been investigating ways to reduce our use of fossil fuels, increase our use of alternative renewable energy, reduce our fuel bills and running costs, and, importantly, better warm our congregations!
You see, the trouble is this: we have a Grade II listed C13th church building which cannot be insulated as it would damage the existing fabric, and we only need to heat the space now and then during each week in the colder months. On a cold day, our existing oil fired boiler and radiator heating system can be going like the clappers for 3 hours before our congregation arrives for a service, and all we have done is heat the air in the roof space, or worse, just released warm air into the sky. So our people are cold, and in winter our church is a slightly inhospitable worship space. And we have used all that oil, and money, for a sub par result.
Recently, we became aware of a pew heating system which is a heated cushion on the pew. When people sit on it, it is nice and warm and even if the person is cooling down, when they sit on it, the heated cushion sort of tops them back up and they feel comfortable again. The system is electric, only has to be on 15mins before the congregation arrive, and costs a tenth of the cost of the oil system to run. The PCC tentatively thought this sounded good and that we should gather more information. We contacted Pew Heating.com : https://www.pewheating.com/pew-heating-uk/home/ to find out more.
At the end of March, the pew heating contractor visited to give a free demonstration of the system, and the PCC took turns to try sitting in the demo pew that Richard had brought for us to try, and asked lots of questions. The church was cold, but we were warm. We asked churches with the system installed for reviews, and PCC member Mike Dunning visited a church near Bath for a service, to experience it in action and report back. The results were positive.
As an EcoChurch, we want to reduce our use of fossil fuels, and increase our use of renewable energy where needed. We want to be good stewards of the earth, and prudent in the use of resources. We know that the replacement of the oil boiler will come up in the next few years, but how can we do that, if there is a better, environmentally friendlier, way to make our people comfortable in our space.
We also want to look ahead by 10 or 20 years. It currently costs us about £700 per year using our oil boiler, but this electric system will cost about £70 per year to run. But during the coming 10-20 years, fuel costs are going to go up massively, whatever energy source we use, so this is also an opportunity to safeguard our church’s ability to open and continue to minister to Ludgershall and Faberstown during and after that period.
The PCC concluded that if we can raise the funds to pay for this new heating system, then we would like to go ahead and install it. We have a quote for £12,052 for the installation. We are therefore now seeking funding. We are applying for grants, but we are also looking to engage our wider community through donations, to have a nice warm seat to sit on in the church for years to come.
All contributions are extremely welcome and gratefully received. If you wish to donate, you can do so online here: or you can put your offering through the letterbox of The Rectory, or in the collection plate on a Sunday morning, clearly labelled. Thank you.
30th June 2021
After Sunday morning worship in the churchyard on 20th June, a group from St. James participated in the national Churches Caring for Creation survey organized by A Rocha UK and Caring for God’s Acre. The results contribute to the National Biodiversity Atlas, which gives a snapshot of biodiversity in churchyards throughout the UK! We had a great survey, and were able to identify 47 species of plants and nine species of wildlife, despite the damp, which likely kept many of our butterfly and bee species grounded. Follow up surveys are sure to turn up more species, we look forward to finding more on a sunny day!
View the link above for our survey results. The same day this beautiful caterpillar was spotted – its an Orgyia antigua Vapourer moth caterpillar. Beautiful!
1st June 2021
Update from our EcoChurchyard! There are seasonal things to spot on the north side of the churchyard – look for the mounds made by the yellow meadow ants, the delicate speedwell flowers, oxeye daisies and yellow rattle! These are all signs of the ecosystem thriving on our little patch of creation.
19th January 2021
Iggy and Jeri
Ignatius and Jerome are our rector, Rev. Tim’s sheep. They are helping St. James Church, Ludgershall develop the new wildflower meadow on the north side of the church. This is part of our work as an A Rocha UK EcoChurch to care for God’s earth by tending the land and creatures entrusted to us, from sheep to slowworms. St. James achieved an EcoChurchBronze Award last year, and we are working towards a Silver Award.
The sheep are helping us in that effort by looking after the meadow over winter. Iggy is bigger and bolder than his sister Jeri, which is how you might tell them apart. They like a stroke but may try to eat your jumper! Iggy and Jeri love eating the hedge, trimming the margins, and munching down all the grass. They have really helped the other St. James churchyard workers to reduce the amount of strimming, raking, and lawnmowing required, which means we’re using less petrol, as well as saving our backs a bit.
In addition, Iggy and Jeri help the wildflowers, which we are eagerly anticipating this spring. They do this by eating the grass over the winter, which means that the flowers will be able to have a head start in the race with the grass for the sun and available nutrients. If you see an area Iggy and Jeri have grazed more heavily than another, it’s because the grass in that spot was really thick. We’d love for you to visit our churchyard and say hello to the sheep and have a look at the plants which are coming up. Do you see mostly grass? Or can you find something else? See if you can spot an anthill or an interesting plant.
Iggy and Jeri will be continuing their work in the churchyard until we start to see flowers poking up, then they will have to go back to Rev. Tim’s garden, because as much as they like grass, they like eating flowers even more!
14th September 2020
St James Wildflower Meadow Survey
The results are in from the latest wildflower meadow survey, which our friend and ecologist, Lydia Reese, conducted in August.
She sent us these results and notes below. It is encouraging news.
Course grasses 53%
Fine grasses 9%
Future aims: For fine grasses to see a significant increase in percent cover, as well as an increase in species diversity.
I did not identify all grass species present, but have provided species ID as I was able and classified the rest as ‘course’ or ‘fine,’ course assuming it is an agricultural grass species and fine assuming it is a native species. Please note the crested dog’s tail, a native grass, is present but rare. I seeded yellow rattle here from a local source in autumn 2019 and 2020, which as it spreads should help reduce the course grass coverage.
While surveying, and then later cutting for hay, we noted frogs (5-10) and a slowworm!
8th August 2020
Arocha Bronze Award
After much hard work to better care for our earth, St. James has been awarded a Bronze Eco Church Award from the Christian environmental charity A Rocha UK.
To earn the award, St. James has been developing our worship, teaching, and outreach about caring for creation through writing nature articles, working with the Scouts to improve habitat for wildlife in the churchyard, decreasing our carbon footprint and energy usage, and developing a wildflower meadow on the north side of the churchyard to encourage native wildflowers.
We were thrilled to discover that wildflower seeds harvested locally and seeded in the
wildflower area have flowered this summer! These yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor) flowers are semi-parasitic on grass, and along with Rev. Tim’s sheep, will help us slowly reduce the density of the grass in order for even more flowers to thrive in the future.
St. James joins many other churches across our diocese working to improve our environment by becoming Eco Churches. The Bishop of Salisbury, Rt. Rev. Nicholas Holtam, said in an interview with the diocesan newsletter that becoming an Eco Diocese, “Shows that as a Diocese we recognise that the care for God’s creation is at the heart of ministry and mission.”
Nature note. To develop your own wildflower meadow, try leaving a patch of lawn to grow between March and September and see what plants grow. After the growing season, keep the grass short and remove cuttings, this will reduce the amount of grass and allow flowers and other species to flourish. If you would like to sow flower seeds later, do be careful to use local, native seeds, as many mixes available online can include invasive seeds which might harm our local environment.