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Memorials

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The deceased had been buried in a line of graves next to the churchyard footpath. It had been the practice for some years that bodies were interred with their heads to the west, next to the footpath, and their feet to the east (in accordance with the traditional practice), but that memorials were placed at the foot of each grave and facing the footpath. The petitioners were unhappy that the memorial to their relative was at the foot of the grave, and applied for permission to move the memorial to the head of the grave. The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty: " ... it does not seem appropriate to me to grant the Petition because by doing so I would be interfering with a reasonable policy adopted by the PCC and ... imposed upon the relatives of all the other deceased buried in the area."

The petitioner wished to erect a memorial on his wife's grave. The proposed design included a design of a rose in gold, red and green. The Chancellor decided that in this particular case he would allow gold lettering and the design of the rose, provided that the rose was only coloured gold.

A widow sought a faculty to authorise the laying of kerbs and chippings and a stone vase on her late husband's grave, which had previously been used for the interment of the remains of his great-uncle. The Parochial Church Council objected, but did not become a party opponent. The Chancellor decided that there were exceptional circumstances to justify the grant of a faculty, even though the proposals were outside the churchyards regulations. The grave had previously had kerbs, which had been moved 20 years earlier, and the incumbent at the time had assured the lady that there would be no problem in reinstating kerbs after the next burial in the grave; and there were already numerous examples close to the grave of kerbs, chipping and vases, so to refuse to allow another set of kerbs would be unreasonable in the circumstances.

The Chancellor considered two applications for faculties for proposed memorials, both of black polished stone with kerbs. One design incorporated a painted scene of a fisherman against a sunset, and the other featured a stained glass insert with a design of an angel. The Parochial Church Council supported the applications, but the Diocesan Advisory Committee recommended refusal in each case. The Chancellor refused to grant faculties. He determined that the proposed designs would be harmful both to the character of the churchyard, and to the contribution it makes to the setting of the Grade I listed church.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission wished to replace a memorial to an airman from the local airfield, who with his fellow crewmen had died during the Second World War. The crew had all been buried together in the churchyard. The reason for wanting to change the memorial was that the original bore an inscribed cross, whilst the deceased was found to be of Jewish descent. The Chancellor decided that it would not normally be appropriate to allow in a churchyard a memorial bearing a Star of David, or a symbol of any other religion inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church of England, but he determined that there were exceptional circumstances in the present case to justify permitting a Star of David to be inscribed on the proposed replacement memorial.

The Chancellor granted a restitution order for the removal of a memorial which had been placed in the churchyard without permission.

The Chancellor refused to permit on a headstone a design of two intersecting triangles and a '12 spoked Dharmachakra', an Indian religious symbol, as he could not see in the design anything consistent with the three general principles of honouring the dead, comforting the living, and informing posterity, nor was there anything in the design to indicate the Christian hope of resurrection. 

In the particular circumstances of this case, the Chancellor found reasons to justify the grant of a faculty authorising a memorial of light grey Cornish granite, which is not covered by the churchyard regulations: the deceased had a connection with Cornwall; there were two Cornish light grey memorials already in the same row as the grave of the deceased, and one in the next row; and the stone was not far removed in the appearance from the majority of local stones in the churchyard.

The Petitioner wished to add the word 'Beloved' to the memorial on his father's grave, on a blank line before the words 'Father, Teacher, Linguist'. The incumbent and one of the churchwardens became parties opponent and there were two parishioners who submitted letters of objection. In 2010 the petitioner had been convicted of murdering his father, and had been sentenced to life imprisonment. Following the murder, the petitioner had buried his father's body under concrete and had made a pretence to the community that his father was still alive. The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty. He concluded that, given the circumstances, it would be inappropriate to allow the word 'Beloved' to be added to the memorial, and would be likely to give offence to the local community. Furthermore, the word would appear to the public as an expression of the petitioner's continuing denial of the offence for which he had been convicted.

The Vicar General refused to grant a confirmatory faculty for a memorial erected in memory of the petitioner's late wife, who had been a singer/songwriter and author of children's books. The memorial was made of wood and in the shape of a treble clef sign. The reasons given for refusal were: the memorial was taller and much thicker than the maximum dimensions laid down in the churchyards regulations; the wood was already cracking and deteriorating; the regulations required a memorial to be of natural stone; the memorial was of an eccentric shape, which is prohibited by the regulations; the Vicar General considered the memorial inappropriate for the setting. The Vicar General ordered the memorial to be removed within 56 days, and indicated that he would not object to it being replaced with a memorial of natural stone bearing a suitably sized engraving of a treble clef sign.