Ryde Social Heritage Group research the social history of the citizens of Ryde, Isle of Wight. Documenting their lives, businesses and burial transcriptions.
  • MENU


Deodar Cedar Tree
Deodar Cedar Tree

What happens when sixty 5-7 year olds descend on Ryde Cemetery?

They have a lot of fun learning, of course!

That’s just what happened one morning before half term when Dover Park School’s Keystage 1 arrived with two teachers and eight other helpers. I must say, we were very relieved to see plenty of adults to assist with supervision! The children were studying their local area so we had organised some orienteering and also identification of trees activities.

We had six groups of ten each and off they went, armed with maps, trail instructions and information, tree identification sheets and their Group Leaders. Their first activity is always to find the grave of the person their group is named after and we know how much the children enjoy learning about a real person and a family who actually lived in Ryde. So Kent, Dashwood, Carter, Slade, Harris and Linington were all discovered and various paths and the carriageway followed by using the cemetery map.

Being Wintertime identification of trees is limited to fairly obvious evergreens and the children had to concentrate on noticing yew trees (‘millions of them’), bay trees, bushes and hedges, fir trees (mostly cypress) and the beautiful large cedars. Sustaining the interest of 5-7 year olds required the extra challenge of meeting three special trees, Billy Bay, Cedric Cedar and Yoko Yew!

Before break the groups all got together in one big circle around Billy Bay (‘probably the biggest bay tree in the world’) and joined in reciting a poem. Thank goodness we had Poppy and Shelagh on hand with the drinks and biscuits back at base camp, the twin chapels. (Thank you ladies.) Afterwards another whole group activity took place within the first turning circle where all involved became the parts of a tree.

A great time was had by all and the children were so enthusiastic and really well behaved. I am, as always, extremely grateful to ‘Dave the Grave’ for all his help with preparation and being such a well respected and admired Group Leader, (‘the Grandad man’). Thanks also to Carol for taking on being a Group Leader for the first time and doing a magnificent job. Her only concern was that some of her group didn’t seem that interested in what they were supposed to be doing and wanted to know about other things but of course, as I reassured her, that’s what children’s learning is all about.

Kate MacDonell