CANON TOM KENNAR: God’s Acre in Havant reminds us of the heritage our Creator has given us

The churchyard around St Faith's Church, Havant
The churchyard around St Faith's Church, Havant

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The rector of St Faith’s Church, Havant on plans to open up the ancient churchyard to the whole community

It is undeniably true that the centre of Havant isn’t what it once was.

St Faith’s Church has stood on the ancient Roman crossroads since Norman times.

Town maps show that over the centuries the town around it has evolved and been re-shaped many times.

Gone is the medieval priory, which is believed to have stood in the Pallant. Gone too are the old cattle market, and the small factories which made gloves for royalty, and parchment that was perhaps made for the Magna Carta.

Even the church building has changed a great deal over the centuries – the Victorians being the last to have substantially remodelled the building.

The centre of our town has, practically-speaking, somewhat shifted to the west – with the new out-of-town shopping centres being a more attractive shopping destination for the car-driving generation.

But there’s one thing that hasn’t changed much over the centuries – and that’s the churchyard surrounding the church.

Until the mid-19th century, St Faith’s churchyard was the only burial ground for the whole town.

It is believed that 20,000 of our ancestors may be buried there.

But since the official closure of the churchyard, nothing has disturbed the serenity of the place.

As a result, without tilling or pesticides for nearly two centuries, the undisturbed churchyard has evolved into a fabulous habitat for an incredible range of native British wildlife.

In an over-developed world, God’s Acre in Havant reminds us of the heritage our Creator has given us to guard and care for.

We, the current custodians of St Faith’s, are now exploring how we can open up the churchyard and its wildlife heritage to the whole community – including those with wheelchairs or push-chairs who can’t currently access the gentle glory of the place.

So, we are launching a plan in the next few weeks, to build a ramped pathway through the space, with benches for local people to take in its beauty on lovely days, and a new wheel of the year structure for the whole community to enjoy.

Detailed plans will soon be on display in the church, and we’d love to hear the opinions of everyone for whom this place is special.

Do come and let us know what you think.

St Faith’s Church is in West Street, Havant.

Contact Canon Tom on (023)9249 2129 or tomkennar@gmail.com or go to stfaith.com.