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To Clean Or Not To Clean?


Lichens are fascinating organisms made up of a fungus and photobiont (algae or cyanobacteria) that appear to live symbiotically – layers of fungus provide a protective environment within which the algae produce carbohydrates which are used by the fungus. There are approximately 1,700 lichen species in the UK, with habitats ranging from coastal shingle to heaths and woodlands to churchyards and cemeteries. A common sight, particularly in the older sections of churchyards and cemeteries, is lichens growing on the stonework – buildings, walls and Memorials.

The surface of older stonework can provide an excellent habitat for certain lichens, which in turn can provide an indication of environmental health – namely air quality and pollution. This sensitivity to pollution can have significant consequences for lichens, with airborne pollutants being dissolved in water vapour then falling as rain and causing damage to or even destroying lichen colonies. Pollution can also have an impact on the pH of tree bark which can affect the ability of lichens to colonise it.

Over the past few decades, the British Lichen Society has been carrying out surveys of churchyards throughout Britain, mapping the diversity of lichens, discovering the presence of species previously believed to be extinct and also observing significant decreases in some areas. Over 300 lichen species have been observed growing in English churchyards, prompting some councils to develop Lichen Policies with a view to promoting lichen conservation, such as Chesterfield Borough Council

So with Spring now in full swing, it’s time to consider whether to clean any growth from the surface of any Memorials that you tend to or to promote biodiversity conservation and let it be!

If you would like any further information about lichens, please visit

To Clean Or Not To Clean?

Our clients say it best

"On behalf of my Mum and myself, we would like to thank you for the outstanding job all of you have made of my late Father's headstone."

Mr G, Shirebrook

"Just wanted to say thankyou for sorting out our family memorial stone. We were up there at the weekend to scatter my sisters ashes and were delighted to find the headstone renovated, added to and re installed which we wern't expecting! Thankyou so much not only for the speed in which the work was done but for all your help in the process."

Mrs Hair, Essex

"I wish to say a special "Thank You" for all your help, patience and guidance which has paved the way to achieving, at last, my plans for this Memorial. Please will you convey my sincere thanks to everyone who worked towards the restoration with such pleasing results."

Mrs H, Worksop

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