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Memorials

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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 incumbent refused to approve the use of the words "Dad" and "Grandad" in the inscription for a  memorial, the reason given being that the parochial church councils of the benefice had agreed, in a written policy, that (inter alia) only the words "Father" and "Grandfather" should be used on memorials. The Chancellor could find no real justification for this policy and granted a faculty to authorise the use of the words "Dad" and "Grandad", which she did not find objectionable. (Although not a reason for the decision, it is noted in the judgment that 15 inscriptions on memorials in the churchyard used the words “Dad” or “Grandad” and there were 12 examples which showed use of female equivalents, such as “Mum” or “Nan”.)

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?

The Chancellor granted a faculty allowing a blue plaque to be placed on the outside of the church to commemorate Gordon Welchman, who had played a significant role in code-breaking at Bletchley Park during the Second World War, and whose father had been Vicar of the Parish.

The priest in charge, a churchwarden and the Chairman of the Tutbury War Memorials Preservation Committee petitioned for a faculty to place two metal wreath holders near to the war memorial in the churchyard. Historic England and the Parish Council objected, the former becoming a party opponent. Historic England felt that the proposed structures were not of sufficient aesthetic merit for the churchyard of the Grade I listed church. The Chancellor, however, was satisfied that what was proposed was of an appropriate quality, and accordingly he granted a faculty.

The Deputy Chancellor refused to grant a faculty for a memorial which was outside the diocesan churchyards regulations in a number of aspects, including: the design in the shape of a double heart; the stone wider than the maximum permitted under the regulations; polished blue granite; a green and white floral motif.

The Petitioner sought a faculty to erect in Maughold churchyard, forthwith and before his death, a memorial in the shape of a Buddhist stupa. The memorial was to include the inscription: 'He wanted green dandelions', a statement described as a Buddhist 'koan', an illogical statement designed to aid meditation. The Vicar General refused to grant a faculty to permit the petitioner to place the stupa in the churchyard in advance of his death, and stated that the inscription would have to be considered when and if an application for a faculty was made after the Petitioner's death.

The petitioner's late father had been buried in the churchyard in 2000. Her mother died in 2017, and the petitioner wished to carry out her mother's wishes to have kerbs placed around her father's grave and her mother's ashes scattered on the gravel. The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty to authorise kerbs and gravel to be placed on the grave. Although there were some other graves with kerbs in the churchyard, the grave in question was next to the footpath and the first in a long line of graves with no kerbs, and kerbs would make maintenance of the churchyard more difficult. The Chancellor also refused to allow the scattering of ashes, as being contrary to the churchyards regulations and Canon B 38 (4)(a).  Also, the Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure 1992 refers to the “burial” of cremated remains.