Benefice Churchyard Policy
1. Which churchyards are open?
1.1 St Mary’s, Bleasby; St Peter’s, Thurgarton; St Denis, Morton; Holy Trinity, Rolleston; St James, Halloughton.
1.2 The churchyards of the remaining churches are closed but both have an extension administered by the Civil Parish Council to whom all enquiries should be addressed; St Michael’s, Hoveringham and St Peter & St Paul, Upton.
2. Where is there a Memorial Garden?
2.1 A memorial garden is for the interment of ashes with appropriate memorial plaques. These are specially designated areas and exist in the following churchyards only: St Mary’s, Bleasby; St Denis, Morton; Holy Trinity, Rolleston; St Peter, Thurgarton; St Peter & St Paul, Upton.
3. Who has a right to burial?
3.1 Every parishioner has a right of burial in the churchyard of the ecclesiastical Parish in which they live, provided there is space available and the churchyard has not been closed for burials by Order in Council (see above).
3.2 Any person whose name is on the church electoral roll at the time of their death also has a right to burial.
3.3 Any person dying in the parish, whoever that person is.
3.4 No other person can be buried in the churchyard without the consent of the incumbent who must have due regard to any PCC guidance. If the incumbent declines to allow the burial of a person who has no right of burial, his or her decision shall be final.
3.5 Reservation of spaces for graves or interment of ashes cannot be allowed, with the exception of:
3.5.1. a grave space designated by the PCC as a burial plot for multiple burials, i.e. a
double or triple grave or a family vault, or
3.5.2 a faculty has been granted (see paragraph 3) by the Chancellor reserving a grave
space in the churchyard.
3.6 An incumbent cannot grant or assure anyone of a right of burial in a particular place in the churchyard or area for cremated remains.
3.7 In exceptional circumstances, it is possible to reserve a grave space by grant of a faculty by the Chancellor. Such grant of faculty removes the right of the incumbent to position a burial in that place. Faculties are only granted however, after assurances are given of available space and evidence of support of the incumbent and the PCC that an exception to the stated policy exists.
3.8 The above faculty requires a completed form, with such evidence of support, together with a clearly marked plan - showing the position of the proposed reserved space - and the appropriate fee (from 1 January 2019 £255.00), and once received by the Registry are forwarded to the Chancellor of the Diocese for approval and his/her decision in the matter shall be final. Such faculties if granted expire after 20 years. There is a fee, which the Chancellor expects to be paid to the PCC once a faculty has been granted, of a single payment of £150 for a single space and £225 for a double space. The payment is a condition of the grant of a faculty. The PCC can give consideration to waiving the fee in the light of the Parishioner’s contributions to church or the life of the church in the parish.
4. Who owns the churchyard?
4.1 The ‘ownership’ of the churchyard is vested in the incumbent (or the Diocesan Bishop during a vacancy).
4.2 The exercise of the right of burial, interment of cremated remains, the reservation of a grave space by faculty, or the erection of a memorial do not confer any rights of ownership upon the relatives of the deceased person or upon any other persons in respect of the churchyard itself.
5. Ownership of memorials
5.1 The ‘owner’ of a churchyard memorial is the person who erected the monument in question, and after his/her death the heir or heirs at law of the person or persons in whose memory the monument was erected. The primary responsibility for upkeep falls on the owners of the memorial who are the heirs of the person or persons commemorated.
5.2 However, it is the PCC which has responsibility for churchyard maintenance including health and safety. When the heirs cannot be traced, the PCC must bear the responsibility for any dangerous monuments within the churchyard. The PCC must take appropriate steps to deal with any dangerous situation, such as an unsafe monument. Such action will be limited by the funds at its disposal.
6. Who is responsible for the type of monument or gravestone?
6.1 The erection of a memorial in a churchyard or the alteration or removal of any existing memorial, or the introduction of any object (such as, but not exclusively, benches and containers for flowers) into a churchyard is a privilege, not a right.
6.2 Memorials and inscriptions may only relate to the remains of a person buried in the same churchyard.
6.3 Materials, sizes, design and inscriptions of all memorials to be erected in a churchyard must follow and comply with the Chancellor’s guidelines, and details of all proposed memorials must be submitted to the incumbent for approval before any such work is undertaken. A document with guidance on size, materials etc is available as is the application form from the incumbent or by visiting www.southwell.anglican.org.
6.4 In law a faculty is required before the erection of any memorial. But in practical terms in exercise of his jurisdiction the Chancellor has delegated limited power to the incumbent (or in a vacancy to the Area Dean) to permit the erection of gravestones and to allow simple alterations to existing memorials if, and only if, the Chancellors regulations relating to gravestones are fully complied with.
7. What about areas for cremated remains, ‘Gardens of Remembrance’
7.1 Only in the churches mentioned above are there specific areas set aside by faculty for the burial of cremated remains. Cremated remains should be reverently poured into a specially prepared hole in the ground between 18 and 24 inches deep. If the cremated remains are to be interred in a container, it must be of perishable material, preferably wood.
7.2. The scattering of cremated remains is not permitted. The Chancellor’s guidelines relating to cremated remains and memorial plaques must always be adhered to.
7.3 Cremated remains may be interred in an existing grave, however, a separate memorial or grave stone is not permitted, instead an inscription may be added to the grave stone.
7.4 Permission from the incumbent is required for the burial of cremated remains and memorial plaques and his/her presence is also usually required at the interment.
8. Whose responsibility are the trees in the churchyard?
8.1 Maintenance of trees in the churchyard falls to the PCC which is responsible to ensure all trees within the churchyard are safe and steps taken to remedy any unsafe tree within the churchyard.
8.2 Planting of trees in the churchyard is at the discretion of the incumbent and PCC; and details of the type and proposed planting position of any tree must be submitted for their approval prior to any such action being undertaken.
8.3 The Diocese provide specific guidelines for the maintenance of churchyard trees and usually a faculty is required and the Local Planning Authority also may need to be consulted before any significant works are carried out. If the churchyard is in a conservation area there is added stringency to the consultation process before work can be carried out.
9. Are there regulations about the management of family plots?
9.1 The Diocese give guidance similar to all Dioceses in the Church of England.
The placing of fresh flowers is permitted, but they should be removed when they have perished;
the growing of grass on a level grave for ease of maintenance should be encouraged;
Remembrance Day poppies and Christmas wreaths are permitted, but must be removed after no more than two months;
artificial flowers are discouraged, as they are not biodegradable and soon deteriorate in quality and appearance;
it is not permitted to have individual gardens, or to plant garden type shrubs or herbaceous plants.
solar lights, wind chimes, sentimental objects, and additional vases are not allowed.
9.2 The PCC/incumbent reserves the right to remove anything that becomes unsightly. In rare circumstances the incumbent may allow a limited number of sentimental objects on a plot for a limited period of time to allow for grieving.
10. Past variations from the current guidelines/policies do not create a precedent.
Updated March 2021