No Eden, no respect.

Way back in September, 2009, I tentatively covered the story of the somewhat brutal, insensitive and sudden application of the no-ornamentation rule within the churchyard of St James’s Church, the parish church of Brownhills. If you can’t remember the original furore, please do read my original post and come back here. The report at the time from the Walsall Advertiser is still available online.

It's all about image. 1:07pm, 5th September 2010.

The reason I bring this up again now is that last weekend, in the pursuit of a little research, I had cause to visit St James, something I do very rarely. I was shocked at the condition of the churchyard. Whilst I realise that the grounds are very probably maintained by volunteers, it seems a little bit hypocritical that one of the richest institutions in Britain – which charges a handsome fee for interment, ashes scattering and memorials – should be so draconian about the appearance of graves whilst allowing the memorial grounds to deteriorate in such a manner.

I found the churchyard and cemeteries to be quite overgrown, tatty and down-at-heel. These are gardens of remembrance for loved ones and citizens of the locality – can the Diocese of Lichfield not find it in their hearts to nip to B&Q for a mower? Let alone deal with the muddy paths through the grounds. I’m reminded of the bible quote from Luke 6:41…

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

I’ve said before, I’m not a religious man, but a tad of respect for those who’ve lost loved ones, their payment for service and consideration for their loss wouldn’t go amiss. Particularly when there is still a particularly officious, sniffy sign in the grounds reminding visitors of their obligations.

Perhaps a goat and a sheep would be in order. 1:06pm, Sunday, 5th September 2010.

‘She’s the far end of the graveyard up where the nettles grow.’

Thea Gilmore, ‘This Girl’

Nettle tea, anyone? 12:59pm, Sunday, 5th September 2010.
Perhaps a little grounds maintenance would 'Detract from the look of the area.' 1:07pm, Sunday, 5th September 2010.
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  • As a rather petty aside (though pettiness in this context seems quite appropriate), they quote the wrong postcode on their homepage, which, if using Google Maps, would send the user to Commonside in Shire Oak/Walsall Wood. I have, naturally, dropped them a line pointing out the fact and giving them a link to the correct code on Royal Mail’s postcode finder. Perhaps I should have been doing something more useful.

  • Andrew

    “Whilst I realise that the grounds are very probably maintained by volunteers, it seems a little bit hypocritical that one of the richest institutions in Britain …”

    Evidence please

  • I assume Google has broken again. For starters you can look at

    Which illuminates the fact that despite the stuff about rich men and eyes of needles, the church has some canny investment bankers.

    Secondly, you can look here:

    You can see that the Church Commissioners of England – the body that manages CofE property assets – is sixth richest charitable institution in the world, ahead of the Getty Trust.

    I’m sure that out of that miasma of wealth and shrewd asset management that they could stretch to a Qualcast for Brownhills. After all, they manage to keep the front of the St James beautifully tended. It’s just the poor saps in the back that get short shrift.

    Best wishes


  1. Grace and worship « BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog  April 2, 2011

    […] I’ve had a good delve into my stuff, and I’ve lots of photos of Church Road (or Church Hill – more on that further down) – but none of Brickiln Street. I’d also recommend looking at the superlative work ‘The History of St. James, Brownhills’ available in PDF form here. Our parish church has an interesting history, and is an under appreciated, handsome building. Shame it’s not looked after more carefully. […]

  2. From one end to the other… « BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog  September 16, 2012

    […] past the derelict Wheel Inn, over Anchor Bridge, skimming around Laburnum Cottage and up New Road, Around St. James Church, past the cemeteries and St James School (formerly Ogley Hay). Up great Charles Street to Co-op Corner on the Ogley […]


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