An overgrown graveyard whose condition overshadowed a recent First World War remembrance service needs to be tidied up as soon as possible.

This is the view of Labour councillors Surinder Purewal and Elizabeth Hughes who were dismayed at the state of St Leonard’s churchyard when they attended on Sunday (3).

Mr Purewal, the newly elected representative for Heston Central, and former Heston West councillor Mrs Hughes who now represents Feltham West, had gone together to visit the commonwealth war graves which are dotted around the vast site.

Expecting to see immaculately kept lawns and polished headstones, they instead found to their horror the grass hadn’t been cut in weeks, everything was choked by massive weeds and many of the monuments had fallen down.

There was also evidence of vandalism to many tombs, and signs such as discarded beer cans and bottles which proved the place was a regular hang-out for late night revellers.

Graves reduced to rubble overgrown with weeds at St Leonard's Church in Heston
 

Mr Purewal, who only started work in May, said: “What I’ve seen is really not good, not good at all.

“I don’t want to get caught up in finding someone to blame for this, my first priority is to find what money is available, who is meant to oversee it and if it isn’t being spent on this area, then where is it being spent?”

According to church records, the site holds many military graves and memorials dating back to Georgian times, when St Leonard’s was the closest parish church to the old Hounslow Calvary Barracks.

It was closed to new burials many years ago as it was full, and responsibility for its maintenance was handed over to Hounslow Council.

Due to its graves from both the First and Second World Wars, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has recognised it as an official site and as such pays out an annual grant to the council for its upkeep.

However, Parochial Church Council member Chris Yorke points out the money is not ring-fenced (meaning it can be spent on other things) and that no-one from the CWGC ever visits the church to check the work it is paying for is being done.

Mrs Hughes, echoed her colleague’s call for action and said: “Surprised and disappointed are the two words I would use to describe how I feel.

“On a day of remembrance for the centenary of WW1 people shouldn’t have to see graves of heroic soldiers in a state like this.

“Work should already have taken place to get this site looking its best ahead of such a significant date in the calendar.

“We are going to refer this matter immediately to the council’s ruling cabinet with a recommendation it finds the money needed and quickly.”

After the WW1 centenary service St Leonard’s vicar the Reverend David Coleman said: “I’m delighted to hear that progress is in the pipeline as obviously the graves are hugely important.

“It is a great pity when you think of what a superb condition such sites on the continent are in, when here on our own doorstep they are not.”