The Churchyard
 
The churchyard
The churchyard is the land surrounding the church and is used as a graveyard. It has been consecrated by a bishop and can be called God's acre. Consecrated means set apart as sacred. It covers an area of about 1.6 acres and contains about 1200 known graves which can be seen in the Churchyard Records. Misbehaviour in the churchyard can be punished by law.

Animals are not allowed to graze in a churchyard, and no-one may cut down or plant trees unless first having obtained the permission of the Parochial Church Council, the incumbent (usually the vicar), and the Archdeacon.
The original churchyard was small but was greatly enlarged in 1882 when the Vicar of Hampton donated an acre of land adjoining Park Road to extend it.

In the churchyard there is a shed for garden equipment. There is a double garage beside the hall which is used mainly for storage for the church and for the nursery school who are regular weekday hall users.

The Lych Gate

The lych gate
The lych gate is the roofed gateway of the churchyard (really part of the church), lyc being the old English word for corpse or body. Thus the words lych gate really mean corpse gate.

In the Middle Ages most people were buried in just shrouds od cloths rather than coffins, the dead being carried to the lych gate and placed on a bier, where the priest conducted the first part of the funeral service under its temporary shelter.

St. James's lych gate consists of a roofed porch like structure over a gate, built of wood with four upright wooden posts in a rectangular shape. On top of this are a number of beams holding a pitched roof covered clay tiles. Lych gates used to be found at the traditional entrance to the churchyard, and St James's lych gate used to be facing St. James's Road, being moved to its present site in the early 1900s.

Trees, Shrubs and Flowers
Some of the trees, shrubs and flowers growing in the churchyard have long been thought to have a symbolic meaning. They remind us of things connected with the Christian faith. See the Churchyard images page.

The Yew Trees
are very old. The yew is slow-growing and a very long-lived tree, so it has been looked upon as a symbol of immortality and therefore a suitable tree to be planted in the place where people are buried.
Yew tree
The Holly Tree
The prickly leaves of The Holly remind usr of the crown of thorns which Jesus wore when he was crucified. The red berries are like drops of blood which remind us that Christ's blood was shed for us.

Thus the holly tree has come to be known as a reminder of the Passion of Christ.
The Laurel is another evergreen shrub which has long been thought of as a symbol of victory and distinction with a laurel wreath, a circular wreath made of interlocking branches and leaves, being awarded to winners of ancient games.

They were adopted as a symbol of Christian victory and can remind us of the great victory of Christ over sin and death.
The Laurel

The Daffodil

The Daffodil and the Lily remind us of everlasting life. Though the bulbs look dead when they are placed in the ground, new life springs within them and they blossom into beautiful flowers. So our church is decorated with such blooms especially at Easter time.

The Lily of the Valley, with its white blossom is a symbol of purity and humility, and it is often associated with Mary the mother of Jesus.

The Lily of the Valley


The clover

The Clover, being a three-leaved plant is an obvious symbol of the Holy Trinity. Each individual leaf has three parts, which are not three separate leaves, but one leaf. So in the same way, God is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost; yet He is not three Gods, but one.

The Christmas Rose has been thought of as a reminder of the Nativity.

Christmas Rose

St James's Church Quizzes

• Print out and fill in our St James's Churchyard Quiz

Further Information

More detailed information can be found in the main site on the page The Churchyard.



The Parish Church of St James, Hampton Hill, TW12 1DQ
Main site: stjames-hamptonhill.org.uk