This sunny churchyard is entirely managed for wildlife and as such is home to a stunning diversity of wildflowers. There are large patches of pyramidal orchid (600+), cowslip, greater stitchwort and germander speedwell, as well as sorrel, ox-eye daisy, self-heal, field scabious, common knapweed, yellow rattle, bird’s-foot trefoil, goat’s-beard, shining cranesbill, meadow vetchling, tufted vetch, zigzag clover, perforate St John’s wort, Lady’s bedstraw, dog violet, wild daffodil, and a range of fine grasses. There are also numerous headstones and tombs supporting a host of lichens and mosses.
The site is largely surrounded with native hedgerow, along with some beautiful old trees, including very mature holly, yew and small-leaved lime.
Being packed with such a diversity of native plants, and managed in a sympathetic way by Wymondham Nature Group (WyNG) means that the churchyard is also a haven for bees, butterflies, birds and mammals, including fox and field vole. Hethel was the leading churchyard in the 2014 Norfolk Community Biodiversity Awards – a tribute to WyNG’s work in partnership with the church.
The oldest part of the bright sunlit church is the Norman cornered flint tower (dating from around 1100AD), and another particularly striking feature is the contrasting 18th century red brick Branthwayt family chapel, built on to the north side of the chancel. Miles Branthwayt (whose father bought nine manors in Hethel) and his descendants feature prominently inside the church – most explicitly in the imposing carved alabaster family memorial commemorating his death in 1612.
Best time to visit
In order to see the greatest diversity of flora and insect life, the best time to visit the churchyard is Spring-Summer. For the wild daffodils, visit in March. For germander speedwell visit April-June, to see the oxeye daisies, Lady’s bedstraw and scabious visit May-August, and to enjoy the pyramidal orchids you need to visit June-July.
Wymondham Nature Group manages the site. See below on how to get involved.
To find out about any opportunities to help manage the site, please contact Wymondham Nature Group (as above).