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Page updated 1 September 2014

St Denis' churchyard:
management, flowers, insects
and gravestones

There is more about St Denis (the saint) on the Wikipedia website.

NB  As this is a fairly long page, double click on the horizontal rules to return to the top.

Flowers in St Denis' churchyard
and its management

Star of Bethlehem in the churchyard of St Denis, East Hatley, Cambridgeshire, photographed 19th May 2014.
Star of Bethlehem in the churchyard of St Denis, East Hatley, photographed 19th May 2014.  Click on the photo for a larger image.

In June 2012, Siân Williams, Conservation Officer at The Wildlife Trust, surveyed the flora and fauna of St Denis churchyard, East Hatley, and produced a survey report, map and species list:

They compliment the churchyard management plan devised by Rob Mungovan, Ecology Officer at SCDC, for the ideal grass cutting times throughout the year.

There's more on how the churchyard is managed on the St Denis Nature Reserve Local Management Group page.

Insects in St Denis' churchyard

Report by John O'Sullivan

While cutting, strimming, raking and carting around St Denis on 14 August 2011, the participants came across a variety of wildlife.

Above us, a Buzzard (until quite recently, unheard-of in these parts) circled on broad wings and gave its distinctive mewing call.  Plenty of Small White butterflies were enjoying the sunshine and a variety of ladybirds buzzed, or crawled, by.

The purple knapweed flowers at the north end of the churchyard, deliberately left uncut this time, played host to numerous insects, including the attractive, orange and black, Marmalade Hoverfly.

On the walls of the church, three species of cricket climbed out of our way; a sombre brown one was the Dark Bush-cricket, a bright green one probably the Oak Bush-cricket, and a Roesel’s Bush-cricket, a relative newcomer to Britain, showed off the distinctive lime-green horseshoe-shaped mark on its side.

Cave spider under St Denis:
a special spider

Cave spider  click for a larger image
John O'Sullivan's photo of a Cave Spider in the cellar of St Denis, East Hatley, photographed July 2010.  Click on the photo for a larger image.
Story and photo by John O'Sullivan

Under St Denis’ Church something deadly lurks.  Well, deadly if you are an insect or a slug.  

This is the Cave Spider (Meta bourneti to specialists), which is quite harmless to other locals, including ourselves.

 In fact, we have been able to help it – and the tiny cellar of St Denis, the former village church in East Hatley, is just to its liking.

Our spiders were introduced to their man-made ‘cave’ in 2006.  Rob Mungovan, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Ecology Officer, needed to find a good home for a population discovered in an old air raid shelter near Papworth Hospital that was being demolished for development.

Beneath St Denis’, which is set in its own Local Nature Reserve, looked suitable, and so it has proved, with the introduced population thriving and keeping up their numbers under Rob’s watchful eye.

Despite a leg-span of 5 cm, the adult spiders don’t move round much. They stay in the dark and await their prey.  

When well-fed, the adult female lays her many eggs in a round white ball of silk that hangs from the wall or roof of the cellar, looking like a miniature ping-pong ball.  The young spiders hatch into a world full of threats – and nationally this is an uncommon species.

So next time you pass through the churchyard, give our special spider a thought, and reflect that Hatley is doing its bit to help.

And if you'd like to see the spider in greater detail, just click on the picture...

Memorial inscriptions in the churchyards

Are you looking for gravestones of your ancestors?

Lists of memorial inscriptions in the churchyards of East Hatley and Hatley St George can be obtained on microfiche (number MI/66) from the Cambridgeshire Family History Society.

The Society has listed most parish graveyards in the county.  See their website .  The section, found under Activities, on Bookstall & Cambs FHS Publications, lists the fiche available and gives details for orders (either use the Quick Search facility or scroll down to 'Monumental Inscriptions').

Censuses and Parish Registers are also available.




Copyright 2004-2017 - This website is run by the Hatley Website Group on behalf of Hatley Parish Council with funding assistance from South Cambridgeshire District Council