Judgment Search

Memorials

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Faculty granted for the removal wooden and plastic kerbs from a number of graves.

The petitioner sought permission to erect a memorial to her late father. The design comprised a tapered four-sided stone surmounted by a Celtic cross. (Her father was a Catholic of Irish descent.) The overall height of the memorial would be 43 inches. The PCC felt that the proposed stone was too tall (though the maximum height specified in the churchyards regulations was 48 inches), and that the design would be out of keeping with the rest of the memorials in the churchyard. The Chancellor considered that the design was within the regulations, and that uniformity was not to be sought in itself. Applying the test of 'suitability', he granted a faculty.

The Chancellor considered three petitions relating to memorials. The first petition sought retrospective approval of a memorial (already erected) in the shape of an open book. The second petition, by the Archdeacon, sought the removal of the memorial. The third petition was for a further memorial in the shape of an open book. The Chancellor decided to authorise the first memorial and the erection of the second and to refuse the Archdeacon's petition.

The petitioner wished to erect in the churchyard a memorial of black polished granite with matching kerbs filled with grey granite chippings. The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty as the proposed memorial was outside the churchyards regulations and he also considered it inappropriate for the particular churchyard. He also made it clear that the unlawful introduction of unsuitable memorials of a similar type in the past did not justify the current proposal.

The Rector and churchwardens petitioned for a faculty permitting the incumbent to authorise modest uncoloured pictures on memorials within the new churchyard extension. The Chancellor granted a faculty subject to the conditions that the pictures authorized: (i) must not occupy more than one third of the face of the stone and must be uncoloured; (ii) must reflect the life of the deceased; (iii) must not be inconsistent with Christian theology and doctrine; and (iv) must not be of a subject-matter which is transitory in nature. A factor in the Chancellor's decision was that the churchyard extension was visually screened from the main churchyard by a large blackthorn hedge.

The petitioner wished to have inscriptions on both sides of a memorial headstone on the grave of her late son. This was not permitted by the Diocesan Churchyard Regulations, but the Chancellor considered that there were sufficient exceptional circumstances to allow the general prohibition on inscriptions on both sides of a memorial to be relaxed in this case.

The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty to allow kerbs to be placed around a grave. Kerbs were not permitted under the Diocesan Churchyards Regulations, and the Chancellor could find no strong reason to depart from that policy in relation to this particular application.

The petitioner applied for a confirmatory faculty to allow the retention of gravel placed over his late wife's grave. The gravel was placed over a membrane and retained by metal edging. Neither the Diocesan Advisory Committee nor the Parochial Church Council supported the work. The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty on the grounds of potential future maintenance problems and the fact that to allow the gravel to remain might encourage others to wish to lay gravel in the churchyard. The Chancellor directed that the gravel was to be replaced with turf by the petitioner within three months, failing which the churchwardens were authorised to do the work.

The petition proposed a churchyard memorial in the form of a wheeled cross on an open plinth and solid base. Whilst the design was outside the churchyards regulations, the Chancellor determined that the design was both both attractive and appropriate for a churchyard setting, and he accordingly granted a faculty.

The petitioners wished to erect a memorial on the grave of two family members. The Incumbent, churchwardens and PCC did not support the application. The Chancellor granted a faculty. The judgment includes a discussion of two subsidiary issues: (1) do the petitioners need to show some exceptional reason for the proposed memorial; and (2) is it open to the Diocesan Advisory Committee to change the advice it proffers to the parties and to the Chancellor and, if so, in what circumstances?