Memorials & Headstones
As well as the final resting place for the faithful communities who have lived in these parishes, our churchyards are places of prayer and quiet reflection, recreation, ancient habitats for plants and animals, and the setting of the church buildings.
Headstones and other memorials are controlled under the current rules and regulations of the Chancellor of the Diocese of Chelmsford to ensure that the special qualities of our rural churchyards are retained and enhanced when new additions are made. From time to time the regulations change, and it is not advisable to assume that the features or materials of existing memorials in the churchyard will necessarily be permitted now.
Whilst there is in certain circumstances a legal right by common law and statute to burial or to have a person's cremated remains interred in the churchyard, there is no legal right to place a memorial or any other item in the churchyard. Permission in writing has to be obtained in each case.
The Chancellor (the Bishop’s legal advisor) has delegated to the vicar power to authorise headstones and other memorials for persons whose remains are buried or interned in the churchyard, provided that they fall within the guidelines, see this link.
Navigating the options can be confusing, and each of our churchyards also has special rules for memorials in cremated remains area which are not specifically covered in the guidance. Please contact us if you are unsure or require any clarification.
A special form (CR1 form) has to be used to make an application for a memorial and this can be obtained from most stonemasons and funeral directors. Until this form has been submitted and the application has been approved in writing, no permanent memorial can be placed in the churchyard. Anything which does not meet with the diocesan guidelines must be submitted through the Faculty process, which requires agreement of the local Parochial Church Council as well as the Chancellor. There is a fee for a Faculty application which can be a long process and a favourable outcome cannot be assumed.
Please note, it is not possible to place a memorial for persons whose remains are not laid to rest in the churchyard.
Questions that are often asked
Can I place artificial flowers in the churchyard?
No plastic or artificial flowers of any kind are allowed. This is because they are not in keeping with the changing seasons of nature which apply in rural churchyards. They may serve a useful purpose as decoration in other places but the objective in the churchyard, which is a holy place, is to have flowers and plants which grow naturally.
There are three limited exceptions:
(1) Poppies at Remembrance Sunday; they serve a special purpose for a limited period at a time of National Remembrance
(2) Wreaths at Christmas.
(3) Wreaths at the anniversary of the death of the deceased, for a limited period of two weeks.
Can I plant trees and shrubs?
Only bulbs or annual flowers may be planted - no trees, shrubs or miniature conifers.
Can I place vases and mementos on the grave?
No glass vases, jam jars or ornaments of any kind can be left - they are easily broken and may present a danger to our volunteers maintaining the churchyard and to other visitors. This includes toys, balloons, candles, lights, pictures or garden ornaments, these are also not permitted in the churchyard.
A single vase container should be included in the base of memorials, or in the case of cremated remains memorials most churchyards allow for a single metal container to be placed.
Can I add grave surrounds and chippings on the grave?
Grave surrounds and stone chippings are not permitted - not just for aesthetic reasons. They are dangerous for our volunteers operating lawnmowers and strimmers.
Please note that dead flowers and items that are not permitted by the Diocese regulations may be removed.
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. John 3.16
Support us, O Lord,
all the day long of this troublous life,
until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes,
the busy world is hushed,
the fever of life is over
and our work is done.
Then, Lord, in your mercy grant us a safe lodging,
a holy rest, and peace at the last;
through Christ our Lord. Amen