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Memorials

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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.

The incumbent and churchwardens wished to remove from the churchyard a headstone which had been introduced in December 2016 as a memorial to the mother and sister of the party opponent. A memorial had been erected in 1974, when the mother died. In 2016, when the daughter died, the stonemason submitted a memorial application in the standard form for a replacement memorial, which the incumbent approved. In due course the stonemason installed a memorial which was not in accordance with the approved application, and which had a number of features which were outside the churchyards regulations. The Chancellor ordered that the memorial should be removed and, as agreed between the stonemason and the party opponent, replaced by a new memorial at the expense of the stonemason. The stonemason was ordered to pay part of the Diocesan Registry costs and part of the party opponent's solicitors' costs.

The petitioner wished to place a 'desk type' ledger stone in the churchyard. The Rector had indicted that she would object, as the type of stone was not covered by the churchyards regulations, which require ledger stones to be laid flush with the ground. However, the incumbent had recently approved such a stone, and there were other examples of the type of stone in the same area of the churchyard. Following the departure of the rector, one of the churchwardens objected to the stone. The Deputy Chancellor granted a faculty on the basis that (a) there was nothing offensive about the desk-style ledger stones which populate the particular area of the churchyard; (b) there were already several examples of the type of stone in that area; and (c) he was concerned that the church should be seen to be acting consistently towards applicants

The Petitioner requested a memorial designed as an open book, in memory of his brother, to match an existing memorial in memory of his mother. Faculty granted. Chancellor: "… having regard to the exceptional pastoral case made by the petitioner for having a memorial resembling that of the deceased's mother, I would be prepared to authorise one in this instance as an exception to the general rule on the basis that it did genuinely resemble that of the deceased's mother."

The cremated remains of the petitioner's son, a former Royal Marine, had been interred in an area of the churchyard set aside by faculty for the interment of cremated remains. The faculty stated that any interment may be marked by "a ledger stone or vase block". The churchyards regulations provide that "any burial without a headstone may have a horizontal stone ledger 9 inches (or 225mm) square, set flush with the turf." The petitioner wishes to have a headstone, measuring 20" wide by 12" high and 2" deep, on a base plinth, with a horizontal stone ledger measuring 3 feet by 2 feet. Very extensive inscriptions were proposed.The Chancellor was not prepared to grant a faculty, but indicated that he might be prepared to authorise a compromise proposal, in accordance with further advice from the Diocesan Advisory Committee.

A farmer and his son wished to install in the the churchyard a memorial to the farmer's late wife, comprising a small unpolished stone statue of a sheep on a plinth, inscribed in memory of the deceased and with the additional words “The Lord is my Shepherd”. The Chancellor granted a faculty.

The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty to authorise a proposed memorial which was outside the Churchyards Regulations by reason of size (base width 60ins and stone 48ins high on top of a plinth 14ins high); type of stone and finish (blue polished granite); and inscription (overly long and sentimental message addressed by the family to the deceased). The Chancellor made it clear that the presence of other memorials in the churchyard which were outside the regulations and installed without faculty did not oblige him to authorise further similar memorials.

The Chancellor considered two petitions: (1) a petition by the deceased's partner to replace a memorial installed without authority by the deceased's son, and (2) a petition by the Archdeacon to replace the existing memorial with a memorial containing only the names and dates of birth and death of the deceased. The Chancellor had asked the Archdeacon to petition, so that, in default of an agreement between the parties as to a replacement memorial, the Chancellor was able to grant a faculty for a memorial with no contentious inscription. The Chancellor granted a faculty on petition (1), on the basis of an amended inscription agreed by the parties, and granted a faculty in relation to petition (2) in case the proposed memorial approved under petition (1) was not installed.

A stonemason had placed a memorial in the churchyard without the authority of the incumbent or a faculty. The Rector and PCC objected to the memorial, and the stonemason applied for a faculty for its retention. The memorial was outside the regulations in that the memorial was not flush with the level of the ground and at a slight sloping angle (the rear edge was higher above the ground than the front edge) and the face of the stone was polished. However, the Chancellor granted a faculty on the basis that, " ... the lack of uniformity in the immediately surrounding area means that the extent of that non-compliance is not sufficient to justify ordering the removal of the memorial."

The petitioner sought to install a memorial of York Stone (and within the diocesan churchyards regulations) into an area of the churchyard known as the Croft. The Rector, PCC and a number of private individuals objected to York Stone, because allegedly the PCC had made a decision in the past that only grey granite stones should be allowed in that particular area. The PCC was unable to produce any evidence of a decision by the PCC to limit stones to grey granite, though most of the stones in the area were of that type. The Chancellor pointed out that a PCC can only have a variation to the diocesan regulations if such variation is approved by the Chancellor of the Diocese. The Chancellor granted a faculty for the memorial of York Stone.