A brief summary of the Diocesan regulations for Churchyard Memorials.
This summary sets out in brief general terms the provisions of the Diocesan Churchyard Regulations of the Diocese of Chester. Please ask for a copy of the full Regulations – from your local Church of England minister and the explanatory Guide .
1: No memorial stones may be erected, or any works undertaken, in a churchyard of the Church of England except by written authorisation or legal permission known as a faculty as outlined below. These Regulations describe the type of memorial that may be approved by parochial clergy without the need for a faculty.
2: Where the details of the new memorial are in accordance with the criteria set out in the Regulations, the written authorisation will be given by the minister of the Parish – the vicar or rector but not the curate.
3: No memorial (including any type of gravestone and vases) shall be erected or placed in the churchyard until the consent of the minister has been obtained in writing. Applications for consent should give a full description of proposed designs, measurements, inscriptions and type and finish of stone proposed to be used.
4: Memorials must be constructed and installed in accordance with the Recommended Code of Working Practice issued by the National Association of Memorial Masons and with the new British Standard. Always check with your memorial mason that the memorial will comply with the Code and the British Standard.
5: The minister will normally be able to authorise the following: Memorials for graves
5.1: A simple vertical memorial standing on a plinth. The normal height of a memorial should not exceed 4 feet high, measured from the surface of the ground. A memorial with a height of more than 4 feet will require a faculty. The maximum permitted width of memorials is 3 feet and the maximum thickness is 6 inches.
The plinth supporting the memorial must not exceed 12 inches from front to back and not project more than 2 inches beyond the back and not more than 3 inches beyond the sides of the memorial. The overall measurements of the memorial must not exceed the dimensions referred to above.
Always check with the local minister the maximum dimensions of a memorial permitted in the local churchyard.
Memorial stones, marking or recording the interment of cremated remains
5.2: In some instances Parishes have adopted a scheme where memorial plaques for a person whose cremated remains are interred in the churchyard are placed on a special wall and in such cases you should ask the minister for details of the type and dimensions of the memorial allowed. In other cases the only form of memorial will be an entry in a special Book of Remembrance in Church. In both cases memorials (including vases) on the place of interment are not permitted.
5.3: In cases where the placing of memorials on the interment plot is permitted, you should ask the minister for details of the type and dimensions of memorial that are permitted. A memorial exceeding 21 inches x 21inches will require a faculty
6: Memorials need not be restricted to a rectangular shape and curved tops are preferable to straight-edged ones. The design and shape of the memorial must be sympathetic with the church and churchyard, and with nearby memorials – a modern memorial in an old section of churchyard will be like a sore thumb. Heart shaped memorials are NOT permitted under the Regulations
7: Inscriptions must be simple and reverent. All inscriptions must receive the prior permission of the minister. Plain cut lettering of good design is preferred. Cut letters may be picked out in paint or gilding if appropriate to the design of the monument as a whole. Leaded letters are not permitted on new memorials or existing memorials not previously leaded.
8: All monuments shall be made of a stone which is harmonious with its surroundings. Native stones traditionally used in local buildings and memorials, or stones similar to them in colour and texture are preferred.
Such natural unpolished stone will be insisted on in contexts such as ancient churchyards or areas immediately surrounding traditional church buildings or other areas of graveyards possessing a predominantly traditional, harmonious aspect.
However, in areas of churchyards of more recent date, imported and highly finished stones may be commonly found and in these contexts only such materials such as black, grey, blue and red granites (polished or unpolished) may be permitted at the discretion of the minister.
9: Photographs and porcelain plastic and engraved or inscribed portraits of the deceased as part of the memorial design are NOT permitted.
10: Statuary and other sculpture require a faculty.
11: Kerbs, railings, posts or chains and similar items to enclose a grave are NOT permitted
12: Chippings and similar materials to cover the surface of a grave are NOT permitted
13: Trees, shrubs and other plants are NOT permitted
14: Artificial flowers are permitted – but should be removed when they fade decay or become out of season. If you do not, the persons looking after the churchyard will need to do so.
15:Vases should be placed on the plinth of the memorial – or on the cremated remains tablet – NOT on the grass or soil adjoining the memorial or tablet.
16 CREMATED REMAINS must not be scattered on the surface of the ground and must be interred, preferably, directly into the earth without a casket or other container.
17: MEMORIALS FOR WHICH A FACULTY MUST BE OBTAINED Applications for memorials, the design or dimensions of which fall outside the conditions outlined above, shall be made by means of an application for a FACULTY. The necessary forms can be obtained from the Diocesan Registry, Friars, White Friars, Chester CH1 1XS. Tel. 01244 356789.
CORRECTING SOME COMMON MISUNDERSTANDINGS
A. Graves do not belong to the family of the deceased – but memorials do.
B. Exhumations (including those of cremated remains) require a Faculty which is granted in EXCEPTIONAL CASES only