On Thursday 26th June, the annual Kent God’s Acre Awards took place at St. Mary’s Church in Chilham. The awards recognise and encourage excellence in the care, protection and sustainment of churchyards in Kent.
As part of the Diocese of Canterbury’s preparations for the First World War Centenary, the categories this year had an emphasis on church war memorials and church community engagement with the social history of churchyards.
The overall winners were St Mary’s Church in Chilham for the Community Involvement Award, All Saints Church in Petham for the Churchyard Interpretation Award and St. Peter’s Church, Greenhill for the Best Wildlife Churchyard. Highly commended awards were also given to six other churches.
The ceremony provided an opportunity for all those involved to display material from their projects. This included a stunning handmade First World War inspired quilt from St. Michael’s Church in Harbledown, which forms part of their Harbledown Ancestors Project. Constructed from old army uniforms, it has the names of all those killed or missing in action from the parish embroidered upon it, along with military buttons, whistles, poppies, and other First World War imagery.
Also on display was extensive research carried out by members of St Saviours Church, Westgate on Sea, into those named on the church war memorial and Rolls of Honour. Local historian Dr Dawn Crouch, who is a member of the church and initiated much of the work, has also been exploring the social impact of the war on the area of Westgate on Sea and will take part in a lecture series on the war at the church.
Canon Caroline Pinchbeck, Director of the Diocese of Canterbury’s Communities & Partnerships Framework, which organised the awards said:
“All the churches in the diocese have been encouraged to not only open their doors for local communities to come together and pray on the 4th of August, but also to consider restoring and interpreting church war memorials and encouraging visits from schools and community groups over the next four years.
“These awards highlight the impressive amounts of work that have already been undertaken by many churches to uncover the life stories of those named on the war memorials in their care, and to share and engage people in their communities with these stories, in order that those who gave their lives are not forgotten.”
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Notes to Editors
– Kent God’s Acre Awards group shot.
– People exploring the Harbledown First World War Quilt.
– People reading some of the research on display including Amanda Cottrell,
Chair of Communities and Partnerships (centre).
- The Diocese of Canterbury is a member of the First World War Centenary Partnership, a network of local, regional, national and international cultural and educational organisations preparing to help mark the centenary, led by Imperial War Museums (IWM)
- Launched in 2010, the Kent God’s Acre Projectis part of the national God’s Acre Project which recognises churchyards and cemeteries as significant areas for flora, fauna and social history, and seeks to provide advice and guidance for their management.