Sheep prove unusual solution to church's maintenance problem

A Shropshire vicar has enlisted six sheep to keep the churchyard in good order.

Liz Angell has found the small flock to be an environmentally friendly, problem free, and economically effective way of caring for the churchyard of St Mary Magdalene at Quatford, just south of Bridgnorth.

The six ewes were delivered by a local farmer just in time for Christmas and they are now happily settled in to their new home.

"Maintenance of the churchyard on a regular basis has become increasingly difficult and a constant substantial drain on PCC resources," says Liz.

"Sheep are such a lovely solution, although delivery of the ewes up the 34 steps to the churchyard was a real feat!"

The 900-year-old church stands on a sandstone outcrop overlooking the river Severn. The sheep are free to graze around most of the acreage and are protected from the steep drops with the help of some new fencing.

It is hoped that the sheep will radically reduce the costs for churchyard maintenance, which stood at over £600 in 2011.

"Two plots have been roped off so the sheep cannot graze there, but one family requested they be included in the grazing, as their grandparents were farmers and would like the idea of their graves being grazed," said Churchwarden Rachel Edwards, who is managing the project.