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Memorials

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The petitioner wished to place a memorial on her late husband's grave. Many of the details of the proposed design were outside the diocesan churchyards regulations, including: two coloured engravings, one of a robin and the other of a West Highland Terrier (to represent a deceased family pet); dark grey honed granite with a polished obverse side; gold lettering; the use of the words "Dad" and "Grandad" in the inscription; two flower holders in the base. The Parochial Church Council members unanimously did not support the proposal. Bearing in mind the context of the grave, which had near it other memorials with polished faces, the Deputy Chancellor did not approve the memorial design as proposed, but granted a faculty allowing: dark grey honed granite with a polished obverse side; white (rather than gold) lettering; the use of the words "Dad" and "Grandad" in the inscription; one flower holder only; the design of the dog, coloured white, but not the coloured design of the robin.

The petitioner's wife died in February 2018 and her body had been cremated. Her ashes had not been interred in the Garden of Remembrance in the churchyard. The Church had its own set of churchyards regulations, approved by faculty, which prohibited memorials to mark the interment of cremated remains. In April 2018, the petitioner reserved a grave for himself in the churchyard. He now wished to have a tablet in memory of his wife placed either on the grave he had reserved for himself, in anticipation of his wife being buried in the reserved grave after he himself had been buried in it, or on a cremation plot in the Garden of Remembrance, if his wife's ashes were buried there. The Chancellor refused a faculty, as he did not feel that the Petitioner had made a good case for an exception to the church's churchyard regulations. He pointed out, inter alia, that a memorial to the petitioner and his wife could be erected on the reserved grave after the petitioner's body and his wife's ashes had both been buried in it.

The petitioner wished to place a memorial to her late brother on the family grave in which his cremated remains had been interred. The proposal was for a wedge shaped polished black granite memorial, 18" by 12", with gold lettering. At the head of the grave was an upright polished black granite memorial with gold lettering, bearing the names of the other members of the family whose remains had been interred in the grave. Two family members objected that the proposed memorial would dominate the grave. There were said to be other black granite memorials with gold lettering in the churchyard. The Chancellor refused to allow a wedge shaped stone, but said that in the circumstances he would permit "a 12” cube in polished black granite and bearing the proposed words in gold lettering".

The grave of the petitioner's maternal grandparents was marked by a dark grey granite memorial in 1985. (The churchyard contains mostly memorials of the yellowish brown sandstone quarried locally.) Subsequently, the cremated remains of the petitioner’s aunt and her husband were buried in the plot and a dark granite cube memorial was installed. The petitioner's father and mother died in 2018 and 2019 respectively, and the petitioner now wished to place dark grey granite kerbs around the grave and add a desk-type memorial within the kerbs. Whilst the Chancellor considered it unfortunate that a dark grey granite memorial had been erected on the grave, a number of other dark grey granite memorials had been introduced into the churchyard, and she considered that a decision to require the use the local sandstone would not be appropriate: "either the memorial for the Petitioner’s parents would not match the existing memorial features at the plot, or the Petitioner would be obliged to replace the headstone and memorial cube to avoid this." She also considered it arguable, given the location of the cube memorial, that the addition of the kerb sets would both improve the appearance of the grave and ease its maintenance. She therefore granted a faculty.

The petitioner applied for permission to erect in the churchyard a memorial to her late husband, the memorial to be of polished black granite with gold lettering, both of which features are outside the churchyards regulations. Alongside the rectangular upright stone and connected to it was to be an upright column extending a little higher than the stone and bearing for almost its full height the image of a cross with a rose entwined around it. From a number of photographs, it was clear to the Chancellor that the churchyard contained many memorials which did not comply with the regulations, including a large number of black granite memorials with gold lettering. In the circumstances the Chancellor determined that it would be unfair to the petitioner to refuse to grant a faculty. Accordingly, he directed that a faculty be issued.

A proposed memorial inscription included the words "Husband, Dad and Pop". The incumbent did not feel happy about agreeing to the use of the word "Pop". An application was made for a faculty. The Diocesan Advisory Committee had no objection. The deceased's daughter claimed that "Pop" was a word in popular use in Cumbria, being a term commonly used to refer to a father or grandfather. The Chancellor decided on balance, and on the facts of the particular case, that it would be pastorally insensitive to refuse the faculty sought, and he accordingly granted a faculty.

The Chancellor authorised for each of two separate churchyards 'bespoke regulations' as to the types of memorial stone which may be permitted.

The cremated remains of the petitioners' mother, who died in 2016, were interred in the grave of her first husband, who died in 1978. The petitioners obtained approval from the acting priest during an interregnum to remove the headstone in memory of their late father, in order to have their mother's name added to the memorial. In the meantime, the mother's second husband of 32 years arranged for a tablet in memory of the petitioners' mother (including her surname after remarriage) to be laid on the grave. The petitioners wished the tablet to be removed. The Chancellor granted a faculty authorising the removal of the tablet subject to the condition that the headstone be amended by agreement between the petitioners and the second husband by adding words along the lines of: 'a widow for 5 years and for 32 years the beloved wife of N'. In the absence of agreement within 3 months, the Chancellor would invite the Archdeacon to petition for a faculty for the removal of both the headstone and the tablet and their replacement by a single memorial bearing wording directed by the Court.

In recent years the Rector and Parochial Church Council had discouraged the use of grey granite for memorials in the churchyard, even though there were already a few such stones in the churchyard. The petitioner had in fact already had a honed grey granite memorial made by a stonemason in a neighouring diocese. The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty for a further grey granite memorial: "... the approach which the Rector and the Parochial Church Council have taken over recent years of preventing further granite memorials seeks to ensure that for the future memorials in the churchyard will be of a material compatible with the church and the locality. That approach is an entirely appropriate one. This is particularly so given the grade I listing of the church and the appearance of the surrounding area."

The Chancellor granted a faculty for a single collective memorial on which could be recorded up to 120 names of those interred in the area for cremated remains of the churchyard. The Chancellor permitted a large stone of honed granite with three dark granite tablets. He would not normally have permitted such stone for a individual memorial in the churchyard of a sandstone church surrounded by mostly sandstone memorials. But he accepted that sandstone is much less durable than granite. Inscriptions would remain durable for longer on a granite tablet to which inscriptions would be added over a period of many years. Also, the memorial would not be close to other memorials in the churchyard and any adverse effect on the overall appearance of the churchyard would be minimal.