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Page created 14 June 2013.
Poems and blessing (finally!)
added 7 April 2014.
Updated 23 June 2015.

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New mower blessed at St Denis, East Hatley
9 June 2013

Commentary and photographs Peter Mann

The peaceful churchyard and nature reserve of St Denis, East Hatley has a new mower to help keep it trim. On Sunday, 9 June, it was blessed by the Reverend Steven Rothwell, the Rector of Gamlingay and Hatley.  He said: "In seven years of rural ministry, this is the first lawnmower I've ever blessed!"

He read two appropriate poems...

Fresh Cut Grass by Paul Colvin*

The fresh cut grass, that summer scent
That smell of summer, Heaven sent
I used to squeeze it in my fingers
Shreds of green, its smell still lingers.
The whirring blades just spinning round
As bales of grass grew on the ground
I'd scoop it up and throw it high
Then take a dive and then just lie,
Or dive right into all that green
And like a magnet, stuck between
Every hair and every pore,
In all the clothes I ever wore
Would smell of grass and I somehow
Still find wee bits, yes, even now.

The Mower by Philip Larkin

The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
Killed.  It had been in the long grass.

I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
Unmendably.  Burial was no help:

Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence
Is always the same; we should be careful

Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.

... and then blessed the mower:

Let us pray to our God
the creator of all things.

Blessed are you, Lord God,
king of the universe:
you have made all things
for your glory.

We give thanks for the work of
human hands, which have created
machines to ease the burdens of our tasks and duties;

Bless this mower
and grant that we may
use it in your service
and for the good of all your people.

Loving God,
we praise you through Christ our Lord.


The churchyard is looked after by a team of local volunteers, who work to a management plan drawn up by South Cambridge District Council, which owns the redundant church. It calls for the grass to be left until the wild flowers have seeded.

Local resident Peter Mann said "Every year we're faced with the problem of cutting long, often very wet grass. Our rotary mowers are fine if the grass is dry and fairly short, but the recent wet summers have made cutting very difficult, particularly in August or September when the grass has grown extremely long and flopped over.

"We looked for alternatives and this new scythe mower, which cuts an inch or so off the ground near the base of the grass, is far more efficient and will make our job much easier."

Via Gamlingay and Hatley Parochial Church Council, ultimately responsible for the churchyard, a successful application was made to SCDC for its Community Chest grant, which helps to fund projects that benefit local people.

Councillor Ray Manning, Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: "This is a great example of how our easy-to-apply-for Community Chest grants make a direct impact in our communities. I'm delighted the local volunteer group is so pleased with the mower and that it will benefit both them and the ecology of the churchyard."

St Denis East Hatley, Cambridgeshire - tidy-up + mower blessing - 9 June 2013.

  Following a tidy up session around the building and graves in St Denis churchyard, East Hatley last Sunday,  The Reverend Steven Rothwell blessed the new scythe mower, purchased with the aid of a grant from SCDC to make cutting the long grass much easier.  With him are Sarah Brennan, John O'Sullivan, Peter Mann and Michael Pearson.

* More about Paul Colvin.
† More about this poem by Philip Larkin.
St Denis – flyer about the church (June 2015).



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