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Late night drinkers leave mess in Hampstead church graveyard

Vicar: Please take bottles home

02 April, 2021 — By Harry Taylor

Hampstead Parish Church [Jim Linwood]

DRINKERS have been turning to Hampstead Parish Church’s graveyard for late-night boozing sessions during the latest lockdown, according to the church’s vicar.

Rev Jeremy Fletcher told a congregation at last Sunday’s communion service that he had spent the hour between his early morning and mid-morning services picking up cans and rubbish left by revellers the night before.

On previous mid-morning litter-clearing sessions he’s found empty bottles of champagne and oyster boxes, after classier litterers used the churchyard as a venue to socialise in.

He told the New Journal: “People have always used the space, through the lockdowns and before, to eat, drink and meet up in, but there’s been a little bit more litter and signs people have been there overnight than usual lately, especially at weekends.”

Noise from drinkers hasn’t threatened to wake the dead, however, as Rev Fletcher said the church hadn’t received or heard of any complaints from neighbours during the first lockdown.

He added that he was relaxed about people using it to meet up in – just that he would prefer them to take their rubbish home.

He said: “I’m quite clear that it’s open for everyone, it’s one of the services we provide, and it’s lovely to see the area and benches around the church being used.

“I was probably feeling a bit sorry for myself on Sunday after picking up litter. There’s a bunch of us who help tidy it up, sometimes twice a day and we appreciate it hugely. It would just be nice if people put their rubbish in the bins afterwards.”

The church was one of many that welcomed congregations back in for the first time since Christmas last week, after the latest Covid lockdown eased.

Nearly 50 people were at Sunday’s second Palm Sunday service in Church Row, and Rev Fletcher said he was glad to see people back in an important week ahead of Easter.

“We had another 24 watching on a live stream on our website and a further 10 on Facebook and I think it was important that people watching online could see people in church,” he added.

“Last year we were closed for Easter and it’s so important to be able to have the church open again for Holy Week.”

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