Applications are now open for the Best Churchyard competition of 2023.

Since Devon Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) launched its Best Churchyard Competition six years ago, the charity has come across inspiring stories of communities pulling together to make the most of the green spaces around their churches and chapels.

Last year’s winner, All Saints in Kenton, near Exeter, and the runner-up, St Michael the Archangel in Chagford, were both fantastic examples of how local people can transform their churchyard when they draw on their individual strengths in pursuit of a common goal.

Now the judges, Devon CPRE Director Penny Mills and Trustee Ivan Buxton, are on the lookout for this year’s churchyard heroes.

Penny Mills from the Devon CPRE said: “Is the green space around your local church a welcoming sanctuary for people and wildlife? What has your community done to make your churchyard a place for people of all ages, regardless of their faith or mobility?

“Have you taken steps to increase biodiversity in your churchyard? What innovations have you used to encourage people to use and enjoy the churchyard? Or help people to find graves in pursuit of historical or family research?

“Whatever your community has done to help your churchyard thrive, Devon CPRE wants to hear from you.

“The Covid lockdowns highlighted the importance of churchyards to local communities, particularly in places where other recreational areas and facilities have been lost.

“We believe our annual awards go some way towards recognising the hard work that churchyard volunteers put in, and we hope our competition encourages other communities to make more of these precious green spaces.

“Throughout the spring and summer, my fellow judge and I travel the length and breadth of Devon visiting the different entries. We look forward to seeing what 2023 will bring.”

The competition is open to churches of all sizes and denominations in rural or urban settings.

The deadline for entries is March 31, 2023. To enter, visit: