Random Churchyards: St Michael and All Angels, Lyndhurst.

I really love a good churchyard, they are real time capsules of a bygone age. I have been fortunate enough to have visited quite a few and each new discovery is a thrill. This particular churchyard is famous for being the burial place of Alice Liddell, the real life Alice from Alice in Wonderland

Like so many of these really magnificent churches, it is almost impossible to photograph completely, and this particular one is no exception. It was built between 1858 and 1870, and is situated in the village of Lyndhurst, in the New Forest, Hampshire. We just happened to be passing on our way elsewhere when we stopped here for a quick look, and the church and its churchyard did not disappoint.  
As usual there is a mix of really old illegible headstones in the usual shapes and stages of decay. What always amazes me is how often I see what looks like an old headstone only to find it is less than 30 years old! 
The moss and lichen always add a touch of colour, but often leave the headstones illegible. In some cases it grows only in the inscriptions, and I have often wondered what makes it grow on some stones but not on others. 
Many of the churchyards have lost their headstones, often arranging them along the boundary wall and creating a park with mowed grass and flowerbeds on the former churchyard. 
I can’t quite decide whether it is right or wrong because I can see the potential dangers of toppling headstones, and the difficulty of maintaining the grass and weeds when there are so many old headstones around. 
The grave of Alice Liddell is nothing spectacular, and unless you were specifically looking for it you would probably just think it was a flowerbed. 
The inscription reads: 
The grave of 
Mrs Reginald Hargreaves
The “Alice” in Lewis Carroll’s
“Alice in Wonderland”
The inside of the church is really beautiful, and I did try take a few images, but the same issue applies. These buildings are just the wrong shape and size to photograph well without pro equipment. 
I did not find the atmosphere here to be too “heavy”. If anything it had an airy feel about it, and was really very pretty inside. 
There are a number of military memorials inside the church, and they probably relate to prominent families that were members of the parish. 
The church is situated on a mound overlooking the village, and the village has probably grown considerably since then. The one issue many of these older churches have is retaining a congregation, and keeping up with technology; and of course raising funds for the church roof fund! I suspect this old beauty has the same problems, and there is evidence inside of trying to attract the youngsters to the church so that they will become the future congregation.
And of course one day become part of the history of the congregation. Although I doubt whether burials still happen in this churchyard, but I do see many churches have started utilising these spaces as gardens of remembrance for those who wish to be remembered here.
And then it was time to leave, and I must admit I really liked this churchyard a lot because it was well maintained, and had some really beautiful headstones. And, the church was wonderful, with lots of atmosphere and some really beautiful ornamentation. 
I hope one day to return here, and take more photographs, but till then I leave this blog post to remind me of this parish. 
© DRW 2013-2021. Images replaced 11/04/2016
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