Churchyard Regulations and Guidelines
The PCC wishes to acknowledge the assistance of the Vicar and PCC of St. John the Evangelist, Lund in the compiling of this webpage.
Initial enquiries concerning the Churchyard may be addressed to the Churchyard Officer, James Richardson (01772 690203)
Losing a loved one is a traumatic experience. The person who has been so much a part of one's life is suddenly not there anymore. There is just an aching gap where that person used to be. There will be grief and tears, possibly for some time to come. If your loved one has been buried in the churchyard, or their ashes interred there, those who are bereaved may sometimes find it helpful to visit the grave and spend some time quietly alone with their thoughts, memories and prayers. Some find tending the grave helpful. Others might like to sit quietly or just walk around and let their thoughts run free. Churchyards should be places of tranquillity and dignity; open to anyone who wants to come and enjoy the peace that such a setting can bring. Churchyards not only provide a focal point for present day mourners, but also an historical record for future generations. Our churchyard is a place of history. It is also a place of beauty with the Church and rural surroundings. Most important of all it is a place held dear by many in our community because the remains of their loved ones are buried there. Our prime concern is that the churchyard should be a beautiful and dignified place. You may find the following information helpful.
FLOWERS We are sure that you will want to place flowers on the grave straightaway. If a container is used the top must be sunk into the base of the gravestone. Containers are made for this purpose and Fr Damian or a monumental mason can advise on this. Glass containers are not allowed. This is because of possible accidents with mowers and strimming equipment. The use of artificial (silk or plastic) flowers is also not allowed, except for Remembrance Poppies and Christmas Wreaths. Fr Damian will explain reasons for this if you ask.
WATER There is one tap situated in the churchyard. It can be found on the West wall of the church, beyond the belfry tower. There is a watering can by the tap for your use. Please return it so that others can use it.
RUBBISH All dead flowers should be removed from the graves and put in the bin provided. The bin can be found by the tap. In the rare case of the bins being full please help us by taking any rubbish home with you.
DOGS Dogs are allowed in the churchyard as long as they are properly controlled and on a lead. Please clear away any mess and dispose of it in the bins.
GRAVE FILLING After a few weeks it is normal for the soil level of a grave to fall. When this happens, someone from S Anne's will add topsoil and ensure that the turf is in place. If there are problems please contact Fr Damian or the Churchwardens.
GRAVE SURFACE AND MAINTENANCE We are glad that so many people regularly tend family graves as this enhances the appearance of the graveyard and reduces the amount of general maintenance work. Level, well-kept turf is the preferred surface for a grave. This enables us to keep the churchyard tidy. To further aid the grass cutting curb stones are not allowed. We are sorry that flowerbeds are not possible with cremation plots due to the maintenance difficulties. These should be turfed over. Flower pots may be sunk into the base of the grave stone.
GRASS CUTTING The Parochial Church Council is responsible for the cutting of the grass in the graveyard during the growing season. This cutting also includes the strimming round graves, trees, hedges and walls. We are encouraged that the graveyard is well kept, and are indebted to the hard work of our volunteers in the parish who make sure that this is the case. The Parochial Church Council spend a considerable amount of money each year on grass cutting and added to this is the maintenance of paths, walls and hedges. The income available for this work comes from Church Funds, fees for the introduction of memorial stones, fees for additional inscriptions, gifts to the graveyard and donations in lieu of flowers.
GRAVE OWNERSHIP In a municipal or borough cemetery a grave becomes the possession of the family and grave deeds are issued. In a church graveyard all graves remain the property of the Vicar acting on behalf of the Diocese of Blackburn. Any papers issued at the time of a funeral are not deeds but a receipt for payment of the various fees.
GRAVE POSITION AND IDENTIFICATION Grave positions and identifications may be checked with the master plan of the Graveyard in the Vestry. Please speak to Fr Damian or the Churchwardens for assistance. THE LAW Many people are surprised to discover that what happens in a church graveyard is controlled by the laws of England. In general nothing may be placed on a grave without permission. Some of the regulations are issued by the authorities of the Diocese of Blackburn and concern the type of memorial that may be erected on a grave. Other regulations are issued by the Vicar and control the day-to-day management of the graveyard. We are sure you will understand that the purpose of the regulations is to preserve the rights of the majority and to curb the excesses of the few. If you have any queries at this stage about the following regulations it is wise to contact Fr Damian and ask for his advice. Permission to erect a memorial must be obtained before entering into a contract with the monumental mason. No work must be undertaken until written approval has been received from the Vicar.
FEES A standard fee is payable to the Vicar and Parochial Church Council when a memorial is introduced into the graveyard or when an additional inscription is made. The Vicar and the monumental mason will have details of the amounts. The fees are set nationally by the Church Commissioners under the Ecclesiastical Fees Measure 1986. The Church Commissioners' address is: 1 Millbank, London SW1P 3JZ
SIZE OF HEADSTONE AND FOUNDATION SLAB The headstone (including base) should be no bigger than 48" high, 36" wide and 6" thick (120 x 90 x 15cm). It should also be no less than 30" high, 20" wide and 3" thick (75 x 50 x 7.5cm). A headstone may stand on a base of the same material, provided that the base is an integral part of the design and does not project more than 4 inches (10cm) beyond the headstone in any direction. An exception to this rule is when a receptacle for flowers is sunk into the base, in which case it may extend up to 8 inches (20cm) in front of the Headstone. It is usual these days for the Headstone to include a flower container and this should be flush with the top of the base. The base must be fixed on a foundation slab, which is to be fixed flush with the ground so that a mower may freely pass over it.
TYPE AND FINISH OF STONE In a country graveyard the most desirable memorials are those whose stone is similar in colour or texture to the stone or slate of the church and surrounding buildings. Over the years the Diocesan Chancellor's general directions have changed and so in our graveyard marble and highly polished black granite stones are to be found. For many years now highly polished black and red granite stones and marble stones have not been allowed. Gravestones should not be polished beyond a good smooth finish, which should be confined to the face of the gravestone. Any application for the use of other granite or stone will have to be made to the Chancellor.
DESIGN Upright gravestones are encouraged as they leave a maximum area of grass that can be easily mown. For the same reason mounds, kerbs, railings, chains and chippings are no longer allowed as they hinder the mowing and upkeep of the churchyard.
PICTORIAL ETCHINGS Mass produced pictorial etchings are beyond the authority of the Vicar to approve, and as such will require the permission of the Archdeacon or Chancellor of the Diocese. Photographic images of the deceased are not allowed.
INSCRIPTIONS These should be simple and should include the full Christian name and surname of the deceased with age and date of death and the years of birth and death. In expressing these dates the notation 1st January 1992 should be used, rather than 1 / 1 / 92. The object of the epitaphs is to identify the resting place of the deceased, to honour the dead, to comfort the living and to inform posterity. They should therefore be simple and relevant. Nicknames are not considered suitable. Quotations may be taken not only from the Bible and prayer Book. Hymns, poetry and prose are all suitable sources as long as the quotation is consistent with Christian belief. Inscriptions should be incised, or in relief and may be painted in black, white or gold. Plastic or other inserted lettering is not permitted. Inscriptions must be approved by Fr Damian when the monumental mason makes the application to introduce the memorial. Inscriptions should be made on the front side only. Additions may be made to an inscription at a later date following a subsequent interment in the same grave. However this must be separately approved. The lettering, layout and wording must be consistent with the original inscription.
CREMATED REMAINS We fully appreciate the desire of families to place flowers near to the final resting place of those whose cremated remains lie in the churchyard. Accordingly, unmarked spaces are provided in the nearby walled flower bed on the adjacent wall for you to use. However, we would request that flowers are not left on the stone itself, or on the mown area. In addition, we request that no other items are left in the vicinity as this can compromise what is in effect a communal area. If you are in any doubt or difficulty please contact Fr. Damian or the churchwardens. To ensure uniformity plaques on new cremated remains spaces must be ordered through the PCC who will acquire them at cost price from the monumental mason who has agreed to supply them – to be engraved at the family’s expense at a later date. Ashes should only be interred in the presence of the Vicar, either as part of an act of worship or in some other dignified manner. It is inappropriate for ashes to be scattered in a churchyard.
GENERAL We fully understand that your main concern is the grave of your loved one, but of course the condition of the whole graveyard is very important. The Vicar is authorised to ask for items to be removed if they have been placed on graves without his written permission. These include memorials, vases, wooden crosses, figures etc. We are particularly grateful to those volunteers who give freely of their own time to carry out grass cutting and maintenance jobs in the graveyard. If you would like to help, please ask. Thank you for your help and support. If you have any queries or suggestions to make, please do not hesitate to speak to Fr Damian or The Churchwardens. We will do our best to help.