St John’s Church possesses one of the larger churchyards in the area which divides naturally into various sections. Perhaps the best way to view it is to start at gate ‘A’ on Berrygate Lane. For a moment take a look at the sandstone boundary wall. It has been badly eroded over the years and requires attention from time to time. The erosion is made worse by the massive yew trees which line this southern edge of the churchyard. When the church was built in the early 1820’s it is unlikely much thought was given to the problems of maintenance.
Returning to the gate, glance up the tarmac path towards the church. If you are here in April or May you could be treated to a fine display of blooms on the rhododendron bushes which line this footpath ~ always depending upon the weather! To the east ‘B’ is a closed cemetery ~ no more burials are permitted here. Many of the graves have strong Copt Hewick connections as this was the graveyard for Holy Innocents Church in the village some three miles east of Sharow. Through the good offices of local naturalists a management regime was drawn up in the early 1990s to enable wildlife, and especially wild flowers, to flourish. In the spring the grass is cut but between April and August only a narrow verge and limited walkways are cut. This enables a multitude of wild plants to flower and seed thus ensuring their continuance from year to year. In June 2000 this area was awarded first prize in the Millennium Celebration Competition sponsored by Yorkshire Electricity and The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust for a churchyard managed sympathetically for wildlife. An oak display stand marks the event. Explore this area and enjoy its natural beauty but please keep to the cut paths so as not to disturb the flora or fauna. Behind the boundary yew trees are box, cypress and holly whilst towards the extreme SE corner are oak, lime and hazel. The eastern boundary has a number of old lime tress and some holly. This conservation area stretches northwards as far as the church and the grave with iron railings.
Continuing towards the rear of the church we arrive at the current burial area ‘C’. Here the eastern boundary has sycamore and wild cherry trees whilst along the northern boundary is a beach hedge.
To the north west ‘D’ stand neat rows of headstones bearing witness to the memory of some 250 men and women who served in our armed forces and spent their last years in the beautiful surroundings of Sharow. This is a British Legion Cemetery. Lister House, a British Legion home, was opened in Sharow in 1950. Formerly the property had been a private residence and then during the second world war was occupied by the military. In the mid 1980s the home was relocated to a new purpose built property in Ripon and Lister House in Sharow, now renamed Fairlawns, was developed into a number of private residences. During these thirty some years Lister House in Sharow was a home for disabled and aged ex servicemen and an important part of the village.
Situated in the area west of the church ‘E’ is a tombstone in the form of a pyramid. This is described separately –
From here, continuing round the front ‘F’ of the church and back to the tarmac path are located graves dating back to the earliest days of the church.
In the garden areas immediately under the walls of the church ‘G’ there is space dedicated for burying ashes following cremation.
From time to time we have had sheep in the churchyard to graze on the grass and help keep it under control.
Visitors to our fine village church, it is generally open between 10 am and 4 pm, will find descriptive leaflets available in the church.