Saturday 5 December 2020

Wildlife in a Churchyard by Doris A Cairns


Book Review by Judith Allinson:-

Wildlife in a Churchyard - 2020 - by Doris A Cairns

obtainable from Giggleswick Church, C/O David Fox 01729 823 493 £10 a copy (excl postage) or
Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust - £12-50 incl P&P !! (Bargain it includes the postage of £2-45)
or Limestone Books, the Shambles, Settle

This 112 page A4 landscape book about the wildlife in Giggleswick Churchyard, N Yorkshire, is a "Must" for all who live in Giggleswick and Settle, and for all interested in rural wildlife in the north of England, and for all interested in churchyards. 

I have to profess to a slight interest in having helped Doris with the tree map of the churchyard (page 1) showing the locations of the 30 different species of tree that grow there. I feel it is worth buying the book for that page alone. You can use it to teach yourself to identify trees both in winter and summer. 

The book is illustrated by Doris's delightful photos and watercolour pictures, painted over 2018-2020. She writes in a lively friendly style, with beginners to the different natural history fields in mind. From Birds to Bees, Grasses to Greenfly, Mosses to Moths, Flowers to Ferns and Fungi - there is a wealth of wildlife to be discovered in the churchyard.

The more seasoned botanist will also find  many gems of information on flowers relating to their nomenclature and uses and tips for their identification.

There are guest pages on birds and wild animals by the children of the adjacent Giggleswick Primary School; on Moths by Cynthia Hardyman; and on the Dales Wildflower plots in the churchyard by the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust.

Doris deals with the trees by season, starting from winter with tree silhouettes and descriptions of winter buds. So what better Christmas present could you give someone than this book, so that they can start using it straight away.

Doris gives thanks to Nigel Mussett who wrote the forward for the book. He supplied Doris with the original map of the churchyard and also with comprehensive wildflower lists he made whilst at the church. She also thanks Chris Burgon of Lamberts printers, Settle, for carrying out the design and layout of the book.

The book is subsidized by a generous grant from the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust and the National Heritage Lottery Fund, through the Stories in Stone Project (see details at end), and supported by the people there, meaning that it is probably selling for half the price it would need to be sold at without this grant. Buy a copy whilst stocks last!!  

Local Anglican Priest Revd Stephen Dawson peruses the book
on 1 December 2020 after Settle Churches Together 
"Walk and Pray for the Climate" event

Doris takes a rest from work on the church steps

Doris on a lockdown nature walk near her home in Summer 2020 -
 Ingleborough in the background, with some flowers
 to be taken home and painted in her box.

Doris points out that growing through
this holly tree in Giggleswick churchyard
are two branches of an elder tree (see the paler colour)

A display was mounted in St Alkelda's Church Giggleswick about Doris' book

Doris, recording the lichens growing on a tombstone at Giggleswick Church.
Readers of the Field Studies Council Publication "Churchyard Lichens"
 will notice this leaflet has been photographed in the foreground
with the almost fluorescent yellow lichen Psilolechia lucida just behind it

Doris spent much of her career teaching science and sports at high school level, then all subjects at primary school in Australia. Since retiring to this area of North Yorkshire she has spent much time developing her painting skills. She is also a keen member of Craven Conservation Group. 
Seven years ago Doris produced the book Wildflowers of the Churchyard with reference to Ingleton and  Chapel le Dale Churchyard. She did this initially so that she could share her paintings with members and friends of the Ingleton Church. That book proved very successful. This book of  Giggleswick churchyard  has completely new paintings and pictures in it, new facts, and includes sections on many other types of wildlife. The pictures and facts apply to many churchyards in the Dales, and much of the UK.

Reading "Wildlife in Churchyard" on top of Castleberg Crag
 and pointing down to Giggleswick church tower
 (which can be seen in the valley behind Settle College) on 1 Dec.

This book has been produced as part of Stories in Stone, a scheme of conservation and community projects concentrated on the Ingleborough area. The scheme was developed by the Ingleborough Dales Landscape Partnership, led by Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust and supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Visit for more information.

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