The pristine lawn surrounding Salisbury Cathedral celebrated by John Constable will become a flower meadow after the local clergy decided to stop mowing to help boost local flora and fauna.
The decision to stop mowing the lawns around the Cathedral once a year, during May, are part of plans by the local diocese to help protect the environment and become carbon neutral by 2030.
Solar panels have been installed on the 13th century Cathedral’s cloisters, saving 10 tonnes of Co2 a year, and a nesting site for returning endangered Peregrine Falcons created at the base of its spires.
As well as taking part in the annual No Mow May movement, the diocese will leave parts of the Close unmown all year round, seed wild spaces with indigenous flowers, and has installed bird, bat and hedgehog boxes.
The growing No Mow May movement encourages gardeners to let their lawns grow for the entire month, to encourage wildflowers and pollinators.
Led by NGO Plantlife, the concept has been adopted by the National Trust and a handful of UK councils.
Work on making the Cathedral eco-friendly has had to move cautiously so as not to damage the 800-year-old, Grade I listed building.
John Constable's Salisbury Cathedral from Lower Marsh Close, showing views that will now be left unmown once a year
The project also revealed the Cathedral’s builders to be early recyclers, having filled gaps in the stone with oyster shells likely to be from their own lunches.
“On the ambitious front, we are exploring how we might use air, ground or water-sourced heat pumps, a project fraught with difficulty on our medieval site,” said Canon Robert Titley, Salisbury Cathedral’s Canon Chancellor.
Instead the Cathedral has moved ahead with “humbler” measures such as LED lighting and draught proofing.
“These are small steps but, like the two mighty cedars that stand on the Cloister Garth (planted to mark the accession of Queen Victoria) you start with a sapling and it grows,” said Canon Titley.
Solar panels have saved enough power to run thirteen homes for a year
Credit: Russell Sach
The Cathedral is sensitive to changes in the climate, as it sits on a flood plain which has flooded twice since 2014. Its foundations are also highly sensitive to drought, having been built on only 4ft of foundations, which rest delicately on a waterlogged bed of sand and gravel.
The work has led to a Gold Eco-Church Award from A Rocha UK, a Christian nature conservation charity, the first given to a British cathedral.
The Bishop of Salisbury, The Right Reverend Nicholas Holtam, who will retire next month said he hoped the recognition “will be an encouragement to other churches, cathedrals and dioceses.”