A MAJOR project to restore a historic churchyard in Ringwood could begin this year if a programme of repairs and tree planting work gets the go-ahead.
Ringwood Town Council is devising a scheme to plant trees on the A31 boundary to reduce the noise from the busy road and repair and clean the tombs and headstones at St Peter and St Paul Church in the Marketplace.
Several trees in the churchyard are lifting the tombs and many headstones need repair.
If the trees are removed, the town council can then replant trees at the boundary of the A31.
However before the work can progress, which will be funded from grants and town council coffers, permission is being sought from Winchester’s Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC).
Ringwood Town Council clerk Terry Simpson said the decision for a programme of work was decided after an inspection of the churchyard.
He said: “The roots are lifting several tombstones and we would like to remove the trees and repair the tombs that are affected. There are headstones that also are in need of repair.
“Many of the trees in the churchyard are self-sown so ideally we would like to remove these and replant different trees along the boundary of the church and the A31.
“The trees currently on the boundary give little or no protection either visually or to the incessant noise generated by the traffic on the A31.
“A medium to long-term aim of the town council and the Parochial Church Council is to facilitate a new tree and shrub planting along this boundary to mitigate the adverse effects of the A31 on the churchyard.”
Ringwood churchyard was closed for burials on December 9, 1863.
It was enlarged and consecrated by the Bishop of Southampton on November 5, 1936.
The last burial in the new enlarged churchyard took place on March 31, 1949.
At that time, Ringwood Parish Council, now Ringwood Town Council, became responsible for the maintenance of the churchyard following its closure on the last interment.
After the churchyard was closed a part of it was required by the Highways Agency for the A31 dual carriageway project.
Several graves and tombs were removed or relocated in the churchyard and the new boundary wall was constructed between the churchyard and the new highway.
The programme of work is being drawn up before approval sought from members of St Peter and St Pauls and Winchester’s DAC.