Churchyards are sacred ground and very special places of peace, tranquillity, beauty. For these and other reasons, people continue to want a churchyard burial or interment of ashes either for themselves or for their loved ones. Each of our churches has its own churchyard and we are very pleased that you may be considering on of them as the last place of rest for a loved one. We hope this page will guide you through the questions you may have.
Are Your churchyards open?
We are pleased to advise you that all our churchyards are open. This means that there are still plots available. Please bear in mind that where there are no memorial stones in the churchyard, there may unmarked graves. Always check where the available plots are with the Rector before setting your heart on a particular plot.
Can anyone be buried in the churchyard?
Anybody who lived within the parish boundary, or whose name was on the church electoral roll, or someone who has died in the parish all have a legal right to be buried in the churchyard. These criteria still apply to someone if they were not baptised or worshipped at this church. Where there is still space available, close relatives may apply to be buried in an existing family grave. We ask that you write to the Rector outlining your connection to the Church. The Rector will then consult with the Church Council and let you know if your request has been approved.
Alternatively, if you are considering reserving a burial plot for yourself permission then you would need to submit a Faculty for approval from The Chancellor in Consistory Court. Please write to the Rector outlining your connection and he will advise you about this process.
Who is responsible for looking after the grave?
The legal responsibility for the grave itself lies with the Rector of the Benefice. Responsibility and maintenance of the headstone lies with next of kin. Please be aware that what kind of headstone, and what is written on the headstone is strictly controlled by regulations set down by the Church Consistory Court. Before erecting a headstone permission must be obtained from the Rector. A separate application form will be sent to you for this. If a headstone becomes unsafe, we will contact you in the first instance to remove or repair the headstone.
If we fail to make contact with you the Church will take what necessary steps it deems fit to make it safe – this may involve lying it down. There are costs involved in maintaining the Churchyard and we would ask you to contribute to this. In order to be environmentally friendly and as we are a Rural church surrounded by farms, we allow local farmers to graze their sheep in the Churchyard. Obviously, sheep cannot distinguish between grass and flowers. Therefore, we ask that you do not place flowers or ornaments on the grave.
How soon after the funeral can there be a headstone?
You need to wait at least six months for the ground to settle. This will also allow time to think about what sort of memorial and inscription you would like.
Can we lay flowers and ornaments at the graveside?
We understand the importance of being able to visit a loved one’s grave and leave flowers in their memory. Yes, you can leave flowers and a Christmas wreath at the grave. Unless you do so, once the flowers begin to fade and wilt, we will dispose of them. As mentioned above we do use sheep to keep the grass down which helps to keep our churchyards looking tidy. However, sheep do not distinguish between grass and flowers. And so, we would suggest you do not leave flowers in the churchyards from late Spring through until Autumn. You are welcome to leave the flowers in the church porch and a member of the church will ensure they are placed somewhere safe where the sheep will not get them. Because of the sheep we ask that ornaments are not left at the graveside.
Is this the final resting place?
The rite of burial is to say ‘farewell’ to the deceased and commend them to the mercy and love of God in Christ and await the transformation of resurrection. There is a theological finality to all interments, including cremated remains, in ground consecrated according to the rites of the Church of England. It is important the grave is understood as the final resting place. Only in exceptional circumstances will an exhumation be granted. If you require an exhumation you will need the signature of any close relatives, the owner of the grave plot and burial authority and apply to the Ministry of Justice.
What support do we offer?
As well as the Funeral itself, we have a Service of Commemoration on All Souls’ Day for all those we have known and loved who have died. This is held each year on the Sunday nearest to the 1st November. You are always welcome to join us for this service where we give thanks for the lives of those we have known and comfort one another in the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection.