Birdcage Walk and St Andrew’s Churchyard
Management and Maintenance Plan 2023 – 2026
Birdcage Walk and St Andrew’s Churchyard are located on a 2.7 acre site between The Fosseway (BS8 4EN) and Clifton Hill (BS8 1BN). Grid reference ST573729
The site is the former churchyard of St Andrew’s Church, which was bombed during the Bristol Blitz in November 1940 and the ruins demolished in 1956. Although the churchyard was closed in 1871, some families retained burial rights beyond this date. The churchyard is within the Diocese of Bristol and the Clifton Conservation Area.
Responsibility for the maintenance of the site was passed to the local authority, now Bristol City Council, in 1950. The Parks Department at the Council currently carries out major tree work and cuts the grass in the lawn areas of the site. The Council is also responsible for maintaining the iron hoops and lamps along Birdcage Walk and for repairing the churchyard walls.
Friends of Birdcage Walk and St Andrew’s Churchyard is a group of local volunteers who work with the Parks Department to maintain the site as outlined in the following management plan.
The graveyard on either side of Birdcage Walk was consecrated in 1822 and developed in the second half of the 19th century as a garden cemetery as set out by John Claudius Loudon in his book On the Laying Out, Planting and Managing of Cemeteries (1843). By the early 20th century the lime tree avenue and the many flowering shrubs and trees planted across the site had matured and St Andrew’s was recognised as one of the most beautiful graveyards in the country.
Between 1822 and 1871 Clifton grew from a small village into a fashionable health resort before finally settling into a prosperous suburb. The gravestones and memorials across the churchyard help trace the area’s history since the stories of the dead help build a multi-dimensional picture of 19th century Clifton life.
Today, the churchyard has the potential to become a haven for wildlife. The following plan therefore, seeks to balance environmental requirements with the need to preserve the rich history of the site for future generations.
- To maintain the churchyard and Birdcage Walk as an attractive, interesting and peaceful space for the local community
- To conserve the graves and monuments as an irreplaceable historical resource
- To create and manage diverse habitats to shelter a wide variety of wildlife
Graves and Monuments
i. Remove scrub that obscures and damages graves and memorials. Scrub is defined as woody growth including brambles, tree saplings, suckers and low bushes.
ii. Cut back new scrub growth every year and where possible dig out and remove roots to prevent further encroachment.
iii. Remove scrub seedlings and invasive weeds regularly from graves and monuments.
iv. Retain ivy on stonework unless it is: covering plants of interest such as lichens; hiding inscriptions; damaging stonework by growing into cracks and joints. Review ivy regularly to assess whether it should be removed or controlled.
v. Retain and manage designated areas of scrub as wildlife habitat.
i. All work to the Grade II listed structures is subject to Listed Building Consent or a Certificate of Lawfulness from Bristol City Council.
ii. The Grade II listed structures on Birdcage Walk are as follows: wall, gate piers and gates of the former church of St Andrew, Clifton Hill; walls, piers and railings flanking the footpath; drinking fountain.
iii. No work should be undertaken without the necessary permissions and consent from Bristol City Council.
i. Create and manage habitats for pollinators by sowing and planting a rich variety of shade tolerant flowers selected to provide a long pollinating season.
ii. Sow and maintain areas of tussocky grass as a source of food and shelter for birds, invertebrates and small mammals.
iii. Build new habitats such as deadwood piles for birds and mammals and a hibernaculum for amphibians and reptiles.
iv. Manage designated areas of scrub to prevent brambles, bushes, bindweed and tree saplings impinging on neighbouring habitats
v. Manage deciduous green waste on site to benefit invertebrates, birds and mammals.
Site Map: Key
1 Central Paved Footpath (Birdcage Walk / Lime Tree Walk/ St Andrew’s Walk / Church Walk)
This runs from The Fosseway to Clifton Hill and is divided into two sections:
- Central Path North – green painted railings on both sides starting at The Fosseway
- Central Path South – no railings, ends at the gates to Clifton Hill
2a North West Lawn Graveyard (borders The Fosseway)
Lawned space covering more than 100 graves, exposed graves and memorials, trees and shrubs.
2b South West Graveyard
Densely packed exposed graveyard
3a North East Lawn Graveyard (borders Clifton Road)
Lawned space covering around 200 graves, exposed graves and memorials, trees and shrubs. Brick hut built against the Clifton Road wall. Double wooden gates opening onto Clifton Road.
3b South East Graveyard
Densely packed exposed graveyard.
3c The Wilderness
Area east of the copper beech that is densely packed with graves beneath a thick covering of scrub.
4 New St Andrew’s Church
Open lawned area with benches, east of the unrailed central path. This is the site of the church that was bombed in 1940. The soil is shallow and the ground full of rubble.
5 Old St Andrews Church and War Memorial
East of the unrailed central path on the border of Clifton Hill. The hedges trace the outline of the old church and some of the graves in the surrounding graveyard are still exposed. Trees and scrub grow along the boundary with Clifton Hill.
6 South West Lawned Strip
A narrow lawned strip with benches and trees, west of the unrailed central path. Includes the ‘Rose Garden’ and ‘Semi-Shaded Nectar Bed’.
- The Friends of St Andrew’s Churchyard and Birdcage Walk do not know the location of the electrical, gas, mains water supply or drainage.
- There is no secure storage on site.
For Further Information:
Friends of St Andrew’s Churchyard and Birdcage Walk
Autumn/Winter Gardening Plan
Flowering time is over, plants have died down, birds are not nesting. Concentrate on clearing fallen leaves and cutting back scrub. Soil is moist so roots of invasive vegetation can be dug out. Planting time for trees and shrubs. Time for building and maintenance.
Brambles: Get between graves and cut back deep into brambles. Get out roots if possible. If not, cut down into top of root crown. Maintain brambles in wilderness area.
Lime Tree Suckers : Cut the suckers from the base before the bulbs emerge. Keep the long suckers as they are useful for weaving into low fences. Add remaining suckers to the log pile
Self-Seeded Shrubs and Saplings: Dig out roots if possible, without damaging graves. Cut back hard if roots are impossible to reach.
Coppiced Trees: Single trunks that have been cut in the past and are now branching out are a particular problem near graves. Cut back hard.
Trees: YEW remove ivy and elder growth at base and on trunk. All other trees: Lightly prune back overhanging branches of trees if a hazard. Cut out dead wood. Advise Bristol City Council if there are any concerns.
Leaves: Sweep up leaves on Birdcage Walk and on grassy areas. Put into leaf bins
Weeds: Remove weed growth along the edge of Birdcage Walk. Weed the two small beds and along the walls in Area 6. Concentrate on removing wild garlic and thinning blue bells. Check graves for invasive weeds that could damage the stone work. Cut seed heads off invasive plants to control spread.
Planting: Bulbs should be planted away from well-trodden areas where there is adequate depth of soil.
Walls and Paths: Cut back plant growth on walls to protect the structure. Keep Birdcage Walk well swept to discourage littering. Remove bramble roots from paths in graveyard areas 2b and 3b.
Maintenance: Build and maintain structures for compost heaps and log piles. Build a wire cage for leaves. Remove foliage from the brick shed.
Spring Gardening Plan
The flowering season starts with snowdrops, daffodils and primroses followed by bluebells and cow parsley.
Brambles: Dig out roots in early Spring. From April, cut all new growth as low as possible. Check for bramble shoots emerging in the semi-shaded nectar bed in Area 6.
Lime Tree Suckers: Continue cutting suckers from the trees.
Self-Seeded Shrubs and Sapling Seedlings: Remove if there is a risk of damaging graves
Coppiced Trees: No action
Trees: YEW remove ivy and elder growth at base and on trunk. All other trees: In early Spring, lightly prune back overhanging branches of trees that present a hazard. Cut out dead wood. Advise Bristol City Council if there are any concerns.
Leaves: Ensure piles of dead leaves are taken to leaf bin.
Lawns: Bristol City Council give first cut in April, avoiding bulbs and wild flower areas. Develop tussocky grass areas in line with Avon Wildlife Trust’s advice.
Weeds: Remove weed growth along the edge of Birdcage Walk. Weed the two small beds and along the walls in Area 6.
Planting/Sowing: Sow wildflower and tussocky grass seed patches and plant plugs in line with advice from Avon Wildlife Trust.
Walls and Paths: No work on walls to protect bulbs. Keep Birdcage Walk well swept to discourage littering. Remove bramble roots from paths in graveyard areas 2b and 3b.
Maintenance: Make sure waste bins are in good order.
Summer Gardening Plan
Most graves and paths will vanish under lush growth that can reach shoulder height in the sunshine. Tree canopies leave most of the lawn graveyard areas in shade.
Brambles: Cut back new growth. Check for bramble shoots emerging in the semi-shade nectar bed in Area 6.
Lime Tree Suckers : Cut back.
Self-Seeded Shrub and Sapling seedlings: Remove if there is a risk of damaging graves.
Coppiced Trees: No action.
Trees: YEW remove ivy and elder growth at base and on trunk. All other trees: From September, lightly prune back overhanging branches of trees that present a hazard. Cut out dead wood. Advise Bristol City Council if there are any concerns.
Leaves: No action.
Lawns: Discuss mowing plans with Bristol City Council to leave longer grass and tussocky areas.
Weeds: Remove weed growth along the edge of Birdcage Walk. Weed the two small beds and along the walls in Area 6 . Towards the end of summer cut seeding heads off invasive plants.
Planting/Sowing: Sow wildflower and tussocky grass seed patches and plant plugs of night scented plants in line with advice from Avon Wildlife Trust.
Walls and Paths: . Keep Birdcage Walk well swept to discourage littering. Remove bramble roots from paths in graveyard areas 2b and 3b where possible.
Maintenance: Make sure waste bins are in good order.
Types of Waste
i. Brambles and evergreens such as holly and laurel: Chop up and put into dumpy bags for collection by Bristol City Council.
ii. Deciduous wood pruning, blown down branches: Saw into short lengths for building log piles.
iii. Leaves (deciduous only): Create a leaf pile, which must be contained in a cage or leaves. The current location on the East wall by shed.
iv. Soft leafy twigs: pile up in the compost area – location to be decided
i. Volunteers to separate waste as they work ready for disposal.
ii. Volunteers to leave time at the end of a work session to remove waste and ensure the area looks tidy and well-managed.
Health & Safety Guidelines
i. Every work session will begin with a briefing on the work and there should always be a range of tasks to suit different capabilities. Each volunteer must judge their own fitness to carry out the day’s activities.
ii. Graveyards have many hazards in the form of pot holes, dips and steps, slippery surfaces. Volunteers should wear appropriate clothing, especially sturdy boots with ankle protection.
iii. Volunteers should wear tough gardening gloves, especially if the task involves work on brambles.
iv. Volunteers are advised to lift only what is comfortable and safe. It is recommended that two people carry small dumpy bags.
v. Volunteers will be using their own tools and should keep these tidy so that they are not a trip hazard for the public. Volunteers cannot use power or battery driven tools in the graveyard. Also volunteers must not work from ladders.
vi. Volunteers are covered by Bristol City Council’s Third Party Public Liability Insurance when working in the churchyard.
vii. Volunteers should be aware of the risk of catching toxocariasis from dog faeces.
viii. Volunteers should check that their tetanus vaccination is up to date.
ix. The group leader will have a First Aid Kit and the nearest chemist is Regent Pharmacy, 13 Regent Street.
x. In an emergency, volunteers should call 999.
xi. If a volunteer is involved in an accident on site, the group leader will ask them to fill out an accident report form.
Approved on behalf of Bristol Parks by Operational coordinator Central and East, 19 May 2023. To be reviewed October 2023
Report a problem on a street, park or green space in FixMyStreet (bristol.gov.uk)
Alternative links for parks issues Report a problem in a park or open space - bristol.gov.uk; trees Report a problem with a tree - bristol.gov.uk or playgrounds www.bristol.gov.uk/playareaproblem .