Ecclesiastical Law Association

Ecclesiastical Law Association

Judgments: Memorials

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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 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."


Request for a memorial to a six weeks old infant, the design including an infant lying in a crib, several stars, and doves bearing olive branches. Per Chancellor: "In the tragic and exceptional circumstances of this case, an exceptional response is called for. I have no hesitation is approving the petition."

Confirmatory Faculty refused for memorial introduced into the churchyard without authority, the memorial being in contravention of the Churchyard Rules.

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.

Faculty refused for memorial inscription including the words “Finally fell off his perch” and “It’s only rock and roll”.

The Caister Joint Burial Committee proposed to remove and relocate all memorials from an old section of the parish cemetery, to allow for an ordered reuse of that area for further burials. There were objections from two relatives of persons buried in the 1890s. The Chancellor determined that the petitioners’ need to clear an area for reuse must outweigh the wishes of the objectors, but directed that the two memorials concerned should be carefully relocated to the boundary of the cemetery.