Memorials in Churchyards
Memorial Application Forms
Diocesan Churchyards Regulations
Memorial Maintenance in Closed Churchyards
Testing Memorials for Safety
Memorials Inside Churches
Stonemasons and Funeral Directors
There is no legal right to place a memorial in a churchyard. Permission must be obtained from the Chancellor of the Diocese, acting on behalf of the Bishop. The normal method of applying for permission for a memorial would be to apply for a Faculty (see Faculty Jurisdiction). However, this is rarely necessary, because (a) the Chancellor has given authority to the clergy, through the Diocesan Churchyards Regulations, to allow memorials which fall within the guidelines set out in the Regulations, and (b) for cases falling outside the Regulations, there has for many years been in the Diocese of Peterborough an informal procedure for applying to the Chancellor for permission to introduce a memorial into a churchyard.
At a meeting of Diocesan Chancellors in October 2012, concern was expressed about a new practice of attaching a QR (Quick Response) code to memorials. A person using an electronic QR code reader is able to access data from the code. The Chancellors were concerned about the inability of the incumbent, or indeed anyone else, to control the content of material in circumstances where a QR code has been attached to a memorial. The Chancellor of the Diocese has decided that no QR codes should be placed on memorials unless authorised by a faculty. In view of the absence of control over the content of material on a QR code, it is unlikely that QR codes will be approved in the foreseeable future.
When a person wishes to place a memorial in a churchyard, he or she should first approach the local minister, who has delegated authority from the Chancellor of the Diocese to approve a memorial on behalf of the Chancellor, provided that the specification falls within the Churchyards Regulations. If any feature of a proposed memorial falls outside the Regulations, the local minister may not approve it, but must refer the application, via the Diocesan Registrar, to the Chancellor.
The informal procedure for applying for approval of a memorial involves the completion of a special memorial application form. This form should be used in all cases, as letters from applicants or stonemasons do not always include all the details covered by the form
Upon receipt of a completed application form, the Registrar will normally send a copy of the form to the Archdeacon and request his or her advice to the Chancellor, before submitting the application to the Chancellor for consideration. In due course the Chancellor's decision will be communicated to the applicant or the stonemason.
Applicants are advised to consult their local Minister before visiting the stonemason and choosing a memorial, so that the Minister can advise as to which types of memorial are appropriate to a particular churchyard, and which can be authorised by the Minister. The Minister can also advise on inscriptions.
To view, print or save a copy of the Churchyards Regulations, click one of the following:
As the Summary fits on to a single side of A4 paper, Parochial Church Councils may like to consider displaying a copy of the Summary in the church porch or on the church notice board. The Registrar will be pleased to supply laminated copies of the Summary for display outside.
Anyone wishing to place a memorial in a churchyard should consult the Minister of the church before placing an order with a stonemason. The Churchyards Regulations set out the types of memorial which the Chancellor of the Diocese has authorised the clergy to permit. The minister can advise as to which types of memorial are normally allowed.
All parish clergy should have a supply of memorial application forms, which are supplied by Peterborough Diocesan Board of Finance. The forms are not supplied to stonemasons and so anyone wishing to introduce a memorial into a churchyard is advised to consult the Minister in the first instance, so that he or she can advise on what types of memorial the clergy can permit on the Chancellor's behalf, and which types need to be the subject of an application to the Chancellor for approval. Where an application to the Chancellor is necessary, the Minister can supply the application form to the applicant.
No fees are payable to the Diocesan Registry when an application for approval of a memorial is made using the memorial application form supplied to the clergy. Fees will only be payable if the Chancellor decides in a particular case that the appropriate method of application should be by way of Petition for a Faculty, for example, in a case where the design of a proposed memorial is such that the Chancellor feels that he needs the advice of the Diocesan Advisory Committee, or if the proposed design is likely to be contentious.
The Legal Advisory Commission has published an Opinion concerning the maintenance of memorials in closed churchyards.
On 22 March 2012 the Chancellor of the Diocese issued a Practice Direction (replacing previous guidance) concerning the procedures to be followed by Parochial Church Councils who wish to test and repair memorials which appear to be unsafe. The procedures also apply to Parish and District Councils in relation to closed churchyards which they maintain and the consecrated areas of public cemeteries. The Practice Direction refers to Guidance issued in 2009 by the Ministry of Justice, which has also provided guidance in the form of some Questions and Answers.
Parochial Church Councils, Parish and District Councils are advised to ensure that they have adequate insurance cover for themselves and any contractors they may use for testing memorials, as well as having public liability cover.
As a general rule, the erection of memorials inside churches is not normally permitted. Anyone wishing to erect a memorial inside a church must apply for a Faculty, and must satisfy the Chancellor that a departure from the normal rule is justifiable, for example, because the person to be commemorated was a major benefactor of the church, or made some major contribution to the church or parish, or was an important local or national figure, etc.
Attached are lists of stonemasons and funeral directors who work in the Diocese. Any stonemason or funeral director whose details have changed, or who is not on the list and wishes to be added, should send details to the postal or email address on the Contact Us page. We will be happy to amend and republish the list.