Gardening has been a regular activity since 1990 and in conjunction with Haringey Council many improvement have been made to the Churchyard over the years. For 2017 the number of Gardening Mornings has been doubled, with regular mid-month Thursday sessions being added to those on the first Saturday of each month. This is in recognition of the importance of keeping the Churchyard and Garden of Remembrance in as good a condition as possible. The work put in by the FoHCT and volunteers has made an enormous difference to the appearance of these areas, particularly the Garden of Remembrance. This work must continue if they are not to revert to a poor state that discourages visitors. The picture below shows the Garden of Remembrance in July:
FoHCT liaise with the Council Parks Department to plan the grass mowing regime which is going well in 2017. FOHCT have also worked with our three local Ward Councillors to get Veolia (Haringey’s street cleaning contractor) to improve litter clearing and bin emptying in the Churchyard. We are pleased to note that, currently, rubbish clearance is much improved, with bins being regularly emptied and the number of sacks collected by the volunteers on Gardening Mornings significantly reduced allowing more gardening time. Sadly when storm ‘Doris’ blew through in February the little Cockspur Thorn tree (Crataegus Prunifolia) in the Garden of Remembrance lost one of its branches. Photograph below:
This same tree then lost a second branch a month later in March where upon the council inspected the tree and declared it a hazard. Shortly afterwards the Parks Service removed the last remaining branch and the majority of the trunk, just leaving a 1½ metre stump as in the picture below:
Disappointingly the Churchyard occasionally suffers from mindless vandalism, usually in the form of graffiti on the crypt door. However on or around the 13th July the large chest tomb commemorating the Mitchell Family to the south of the Tower was defaced with a vandal’s spray-painted signature or ‘tag’. This provoked a strongly supportive reaction from many in the community, local religious groups and our local politicians. The police were informed and an article appeared in the Ham and High newspaper on the 15th July to draw attention to unacceptability of this type of behaviour and hopefully identify the culprit and deter any repetition. Our thanks go to Councillor Adam Jogee who liaised with the council cleansing service and arranged for the prompt removal of the graffiti. The picture below shows the tomb after cleaning:
As part of the Long View Working/Steering Group’s programme to raise the profile and use of the Tower within the local community a series of four concerts were held in the Churchyard/Garden of Remembrance each Sunday in June. The launch day event was held on the 4th June with musical accompaniment by ‘Millie and The Millionaires’ – this concert was followed by three further Sunday concerts featuring the musical combo ‘That Blue Patch’ on June 11th, traditional Irish band ‘The Kids on the Mountain’ on June 18th and ‘The Tower Singers’ together with the soprano Natasha Hardy on Sunday June 25th.
The concert on the 18th June was followed by the ‘Hornsey Community Picnic at the Tower’ as part of the ‘Great Get Together/Big Lunch Weekend’. This event was very well attended including local officials and our MP Catherine West who spoke to introduce the event. The weather throughout June was very good and the concerts proved very enjoyable providing a great opportunity to increase awareness of the Tower/Churchyard and the benefit they are to the local area. Our thanks go to all
The FoHCT Open Day was held on Saturday June 10th 2017 from 2pm to 5pm following a regular gardening morning and once again was a great success. Publicity for the FoHCT Open Day is helped by it now being part of the Crouch End Festival, which is billed as the UK’s largest community arts festival. Activities during the open day included tower tours, teddy abseiling, tomb and tree trails, entertainment from the Tower Singers and teas. The annual Pets’ Blessing Service was again held during the Open Day and the day’s activities raised a total of £405 towards the upkeep of the Tower and Churchyard.
On a beautifully sunny, if rather chilly, morning on the 21st March the Tower hosted two Year 5 classes of 30 pupils each and their teachers from St Mary’s CE Primary School in Rectory Gardens. The visit had been arranged by Rebecca Sheldon as part of the pupils’ current Local Area topic of their history and geography curriculum. During their 2½ hour visit the children climbed to the top of the Tower to identify both local and London landmarks, take in the view and see if they could spot their homes. On the ground they explored the churchyard and Garden of Remembrance finding out information on a trail of some of the tombs, which were identified with numbered ‘lollipops’. Feedback from the School has been very positive; pupils and teachers reported that they had all really enjoyed the morning. The pupils later raised a magnificent £180 towards the Tower funds through a school cake sale. It is hoped that visits from local schools will become regular events.
The School Summer Fair was held on Saturday 1st July which coincided with a FOHCT regular gardening Saturday. Children’s games were held in the churchyard and the tower was open for tours.
Approximately 45 pupils enjoyed playing the ‘Tower Game’ organised by Rebecca Sheldon and £67 was raised from the sale of merchandise and Tower tours towards the upkeep of the building.
The day was also the first opportunity to hoist the 2016~2017 Green Flag on the new flagpole above the turret that had been installed two days earlier on the 29th June.
Over two days on the 28th and 29th June a rope access team from Rodell Ltd in St Albans, Hertfordshire installed the new lightning conductor system and the new flagpole – the lightning conductor has been funded by the church but the flagpole was funded by the Friends. Rodell Ltd are specialists in Church Conservation, Rope access, Scaffolding Services and Lightning Protection and Conductor Systems. The new 8 metre flagpole was supplied by Plymol Ltd in Caernarfon, Wales and is mounted on the east side of the turret and incorporates an integral lightning conductor linked to the system protecting the Tower. The picture below shows one of the team installing the lightning conductor on the south side of the Tower.
Thanks to the hard work of the Friends, volunteers and staff of the Council Parks Department, Hornsey Churchyard has retained its Green Flag Community Award for the eighth year in succession. The new flag was raised on the 18th July which was the official declaration day. The Green Flag Community Award Judge visited the Churchyard on Tuesday 23rd May to make the assessment for the 2017-18 Award. Part of the Judge’s assessment is now ‘Meeting Community Representatives’ so thanks are due to all the Gardeners who came to support the application for the Churchyard during the Judge’s visit. The community turnout was very impressive and there was a unanimous cheer when the judge announced that the Churchyard has won its 2017/18 award! The Judge’s citation is quoted below:
“Hornsey Churchyard, which has been here at least since medieval times, is an oasis of tranquility surrounded by the trappings of urban life. In the centre of the Churchyard is the medieval tower of St Mary’s (grade 2* listed). The Tower dominates the Garden of Remembrance, which is laid out on the plan of the old church of St Mary’s. In this peaceful Churchyard you can stroll by the newly planted ‘Scented Walk’, enjoy its open space where the summer grass grows long. You’ll find fine trees and a haven for wild life. All over the Churchyard there are gravestones to discover; some go back to the eighteenth century, as well as tombs and memorials of many ordinary and notable people including two listed tombs. Whether you’re young or old, walking or cycling through, or coming to sit and absorb its atmosphere the churchyard welcomes all”.
The annual Carol Service was held at 6pm on Saturday 17th December 2016 outdoors in the Garden of Remembrance. The Carol Service was very well attended and fortunately the weather was kind (cold but fair). The service was led by Fr Bruce Batstone and the lighting, PA and sound systems were provided by Chris Arnold of Creative Orchestra. A collection during the service raised £135 which was donated towards the upkeep of the Tower and Churchyard. The service was followed by the now traditional mulled wine and mince pies prepared by Nick Allaway and Peter Sanders.
The remedial electrical works that were required to bring the Tower wiring up to standard and enable the IEE Certificate to be issued were fortunately completed just in time for the Christmas lights to be installed prior to the festivities. The picture shows the display from the north side of the Tower with light clusters in the stairway windows, an innovation for 2016. As part of the electrical works/inspection the decorative lights were PAT certified (Portable Appliance Testing) with just one unit not meeting the standard and having to be replaced.
For a number of years we have been adorning the Tower with lights for the Christmas period, each year experimenting with new ways of trying to combat the attempts by the weather to blow them all away. Dangled strings of lights danced around in a rather alarming way, and so for 2013 Christmas we tried loops instead, which proved more stable in the high winds.
The re-planting of the Garden of Remembrance has been the major activity of the Friends since 2008 when the south border was completely dug over, extended and replanted. The next stage was a thorough survey of the existing plants in the other three borders. A few choice shrubs were retained but the majority were grubbed up and a comprehensive replanting took place. The results, shown in this photograph, can only be described as exuberant. The whole garden is now a place of delight. We are always pleased to welcome anyone who would like to join us to keep it this way. There is also work needed in the rest of the churchyard and volunteers are equally welcome to help maintain this as an open space which people enjoy and where they feel safe.