71. The "grandest churchyard in England" with (just over) 99 yew trees

The churchyard of St Mary's, Painswick, attracts as much, if not more, interest from visitors as the 15th Century church building. Picture © Cotswolds Conservation Board. The churchyard of St Mary's Church in the Cotswold village of Painswick was described by the renowned historian Alec Clifton-Taylor as "the grandest churchyard in England" with its famous tombs and yew trees.

Often referred to as "The Queen of the Cotswolds", Painswick's narrow streets and traditional architecture make it the epitome of the English village

Legend suggests that there are just 99 yew trees growing in Painswick churchyard and that the devil would destroy the hundredth if it were ever planted.

In the year 2000 St Mary's was faced with a dilemma. Every parish in the Diocese of Gloucester was given a yew tree to plant to mark the millennium. Painswick was chosen to host a special service when all the young yew trees were blessed and given out.

Parish officials bravely planted the 100th yew on the north side of the church near the bus stop. Contrary to legend, it is doing well.

The yew trees were all planted in the early 1700s and when they are counted, it is clear there actually more than 100, but no two people get the same answer!

Painswick churchyard also has a unique collection of chest tombs and monuments from the early 17th Century onwards, carved in local stone by local craftsmen.

Most of the tombstones in the churchyard date from before 1860, when the churchyard was closed for burials.

Each September, a ceremony known as "clypping the church" takes place in Painswick. Local children wear flowers in their hair, join hands and embrace St Mary's Church.

More information

St Mary's Church
New Street

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