HAWORTH Parish Church bosses have cried fowl about the latest visitors to their graveyard.

They are far from egg-static the cemetery has been invaded by a flapping flock of hens and cockerels, with up to 30 of the feathered ‘fiends’ setting up home only yards from the historic Brontë Parsonage Museum.

They have made nests in shrubbery around St Michael and All Saints Church, laying eggs and even hatching chickens.

The batty birds run in and around the ever-present tourists, easily evade capture by church members and have even disrupted weddings.

Parochial Church Council member, Sarah Kirk, said the problem is certainly nothing to crow about.

She added: “They’ve been here a good month now. We’ve got babies as well. I think someone dumped them there.

“We’ve tried to help ourselves. We’ve tried to catch them and put them into cages but they just run into the trees.

“We had a large clean-up of the graveyard, but everything’s full of chicken muck. We’ve got to the stage where we have brides coming into the church who don’t want to go through the muck.”

Sarah said the church would be quite happy to hand over the hens to a new owner if he or she is willing to catch them.

She added: “We’re looking to get rid of them rather than cull them.”

Sarah said church members did not know where the large flock of hens and cocks had come from.

One theory is a local farmer or allotment holder dumped the hens because they could not afford to meet stringent requirements currently imposed on poultry-keepers due to the risk of bird flu.

She has visited nearby smallholdings – along a footpath towards the Brontë Village car park – but nobody admitted to owning the birds.

She has also contacted a poultry rescue charity but was told it would only take former battery hens.

Sarah said she had contacted several organisations, including the Environment Agency and Bradford Council, but they were also unable to help.

She added: “They will remove cockerels if they are too noisy, but nothing else, only rats and mice.”

St Michael and All Angels Church was built in the late 1800s, rebuilt on the shell of the church presided over by the Rev Patrick Brontë only a few years before. All the Brontë family, except Anne, were interred in a tomb beneath the present church.