Peaceful Play: St John Sub Castro Churchyard, Lewes


I wasn’t sure about writing this post. I wasn’t sure if people would think I was strange, morbid or disrespectful.


But a couple of weeks ago I was in a bind. My eldest son had chickenpox. He was covered in spots, highly contagious, but on fantastic form. After two days cooped up in the house/yarden the boys were going crazy – and driving me the same way. They needed to get out. (So did I). They wanted to go to the park. (So did I). But I had to keep them away from other kids.


A touching totem-like memorial, mosaiced and topped with a cat, in All Saints churchyard

Living as we do near St John sub Castro in The Pells, and just a week or so after a friend and I had sat in the peaceful churchyard of the All Saints with our littler ones, I hit upon an idea: the wild, tangled, ramshackle churchyard was also a deserted patch of green space.

But was it wrong to play here, given that it is attached to a place of worship and was created a place of ‘rest’? A place that would have been associated with sadness?


I decided it wasn’t. This is because:

1) A year ago the creators of Wildlife Jack wrote a guest post for Little Lewes about places for a bug hunt and the churchyard was one of them. (If you want to bug hunt in the churchyard, see their ‘Top 10 Tips‘ for doing so).

2) There is a sign on the gates of the churchyard titled ‘Lewes Churchyard Wildlife Events’ that Sussex Wildlife Trust pinned there to tell about the events they host all over Lewes. So it is clearly already used for activities beyond its original intended purpose. Head to for more on these if interested – ‘Bat Night’ is coming up tomorrow!

3) If I was buried beneath the ground for 100 years, I would probably like to hear the sound of children playing every once in a while.

4) It’s nice sometimes to find adventure in a place that has not been ‘allocated’ or ‘designed’ for it. My children loved the novelty factor. I liked the peace.

5) It is a beautiful place that is hardly visited/used and that’s a great shame.


We spent about an hour exploring, looking at wild flowers, reading and looking at the sculptural forms on some of the headstonesplaying hide and seek and yes, my children did climb over the gravestones a little. The place is higgledy-piggledy and it is often difficult to cut neat paths between them.


You should note that there are two beehives in the churchyard and these should be left well alone. The ground is also uneven and there are sometimes hidden pieces of stone beneath the grass that could cause you to trip. Please take great care when visiting the churchyard.*


* Visits to the St John sub Castro churchyard are taken at your own risk. Little Lewes cannot be held responsible for accidents that occur during your visit.

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I’m Kate, a copywriter, brand consultant and editor who creates messages that are clear and clean. I create these for brands and agencies both big and boutique, in areas including design, homes and interiors, travel, fashion, lifestyle, beauty, food, and kids and families. I believe clear, clean messages bolster brands and businesses. They evoke emotion and ignite inspiration, and when written well, they’re easier to absorb – and respond to. I live in Copenhagen and am half-English, half-Danish. I write as comfortably in American English as in British, and behind the scenes I'm also studying Danish. Need help getting your message out? Contact me.

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