Nature & Wildlife

Foreground shows cut vegetation and background shows 3 volunteers that includes a teenager and two other younger boys who are undertaking practical conservation work
The Friends of Reading Old Cemetery work party. Photo credit: Leslee Barron

“They are in nearly every village, town and city across the UK, thousands of church buildings peppering the landscape. But while many may no longer be in regular use, the churchyards surrounding them – quiet, peaceful and often ancient – amount to what Olivia Graham, the bishop of Reading, equates to “a small national park”. The land beyond the church gate is some of the most biodiverse in the UK because it has largely stayed untouched”. (Alexander Turner, The Guardian, 6/5/2022)

Reading Old Cemetery is a ‘Local Wildlife Site’ – which is a non-statutory designation for sites of significant value for the conservation of wildlife and represent local character and distinctiveness and play an important role in meeting local and national targets for biodiversity. 

The site forms part of an important wildlife corridor in East Reading – linking Reading University (Whiteknights Campus) to its south,  the River Thames and kennet to its north and Palmer Park and beyond to its East.  

four practical conservation voulunteers are shown in the cemetery carrying the tools they have been using
The Friends of Reading Old Cemetery, Photo credit: Leslee Barron

The Friends of Reading Old Cemetery (part of Econet) was formed in March 2013 and now runs regular monthly practical conservation work parties at the site on the first Sunday afternoon of each month and all are welcome (no experience necessary).

Logo for Econet - conservation volunteers

The Friends of Reading Old Cemetery also run hugely popular Family Open Days at the site that focus on the nature and wildlife of the site, plus various walks and talks on the subject.

Reading Old Cemetery is also included on Historic England’s Register of Historic Parks and Gardens as it is one of England’s earliest ‘Garden Cemeteries’

A full ecological survey of Reading Old Cemetery was undertaken in 2006. Since then various people/local conservation groups have continued these surveys and their data is sent to the Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre (TVERC)

The The National Biodiversity Network Atlas also now includes burial grounds and we hope to upload our ecological records to this database.

The Friends of Reading Old Cemetery are proud to be a member of The National Federation of Cemetery Friends.

Caring for Gods Acre and The Church of England run Churches Count on Nature week during June – which we hope to take part in during June 2023.

Logo for 'Churches count on nature' project

Given this is very much a community led project – PLEASE DO SUBMIT ANY WILDLIFE SIGHINGS YOU MAY HAVE. Use the ‘Contact Us’ form to submit and records and findings.

At present this website has pages that focus on the trees and flowering plants found in Reading Old Cemetery – more pages will be added over time including: invertebrates, mammals, grasses, mosses and lichens, birds and mushrooms and fungi.

For more detailed information about how and why burial grounds are such valuable “Havens for Wildlife’ refer to Caring for Gods Acre website