When someone you love has died

When someone you love has died

What do I need to think about?

The minimum time between the burial and putting up a memorial is six months as the ground needs time to settle.  Before you get too far with your plans, please talk to the Rector to avoid difficulties and disappointment later in the process. 
You will need to decide whether you want to commission an individual memorial, perhaps created by an artist, or choose a more standard design from a catalogue.  Once you have a clear idea you will need to fill in a form which your stonemason will give you.
The Rector is allowed to authorise headstones, provided that they comply with the Churchyard Regulations, so please talk through your wishes with him.
In less straightforward cases you will need to apply to the Chancellor of the Diocese for permission (a ‘Faculty’), for which there is a fee.  The Rector will be able to advise you about how to apply.

The following regulations apply to graves and to memorials placed above ashes:
The Churchyard Regulations are available in full on the diocesan web site at:
In summary, the key points are:
Materials: Only natural stone (with a non reflective surface) or hardwood (oak or teak).  Stones traditionally used in local buildings are preferred.
Size of headstones and plaques: Your stonemason will be aware of the sizes permitted and you may view the details on the site above.
Base: A headstone may stand on a stone base if it projects no more than 102mm (4”) beyond the headstone or 200mm (8”) if the base contains a hole for a vase.
Designs: No portraits or photographs on the headstone or memorial; no heart shaped stones; no lights; no sculptures or statues.  The top may be curved or straight.
Surroundings: No kerbs, fencing, railings, chains, stones or ornaments of any kind. 
Inscriptions: Inscriptions must be simple, reverent and theologically acceptable; they may include appropriate quotations from the scriptures or literary sources.
Flowers: No trees, rose bushes, shrubs or artificial flowers are allowed but flower bulbs may be planted.  Cut flowers, seasonal wreaths or Remembrance poppies are allowed, but please remove them once wilted or out of season.

Can my family member be buried in the Churchyard?
If the Church has a Churchyard that is still open for burials, a person who has been living or has died in the parish has the right to be buried there or to have their ashes interred.  ‘Living in the parish’ includes someone who normally lived there but who died elsewhere, such as in hospital or a nursing home
The Rector’s permission is needed in order to place ashes in the Churchyard.
Sometimes people believe that they have bought the plot of land in which their loved one is buried.  This is not the case.  They are simply paying for the work involved in the burial and making a contribution to maintaining the Churchyard.  No part of a consecrated Churchyard can be sold.

I want to put up a headstone, what do I need to know?
Most people have a headstone or monument to commemorate the person who has died.  You will want to think carefully about this, because once in place, a stone will be there for a very long time.  You may not realise that no one has the right to a Churchyard memorial.  All memorials have to be approved.
A legal officer known as the Chancellor is responsible for making the Churchyard Regulations for the Diocese of Peterborough.  The Regulations cover questions such as size, materials, design and inscriptions.

Why these Regulations?
Churchyard Regulations are there to make sure that the Churchyard is a place of peace and beauty for everyone to enjoy.
A memorial that might be suitable for an urban, civic cemetery may look out of place next to an historic Church building.  The Chancellor has a responsibility to make sure that the Churchyard remains an appropriate setting for a parish Church for the next several hundred years.  As it is a Churchyard, any memorial must be compatible with the Christian faith.
We hope you understand the need for regulations.  They are designed to make sure that our Churchyards remain harmonious places of peace.  By providing these guidelines we hope you will be able to choose an appropriate memorial worthy of the memory of the person who has died, without the trouble and expense of seeking formal permission from the Chancellor.


Set your troubled hearts at rest.
Trust in God always, trust in me.
There are many dwelling-places in my Father’s house.
John  14:  1 - 2
The Diocese of Peterborough

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