Ecclesiastical Law Association

Ecclesiastical Law Association

Judgments: Memorials

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The Dean of Arches allowed an appeal against the decision of the Chancellor of the Diocese, who refused to grant a confirmatory faculty for a memorial placed inside the church. The Dean pointed out that a faculty for a memorial inside a church should only be granted in exceptional circumstances. He found that in the present case there were exceptional circumstances, as the persons commemorated had been substantial benefactors of the church and the village over many years.

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

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 Parochial Church Council petitioned for permission to remove all toys, ornaments and other memorabilia and edgings from 67 graves within the churchyard, many of which items had been in the churchyard for a considerable time. The Chancellor considered all written objections, including a claim that to remove such items would be in breach of the law relating to human rights, but decided that the PCC was entirely within its rights in wishing to enforce the Churchyard Regulations, and accordingly a faculty was granted.

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.

Faculty granted by the Chancellor, authorising the removal of kerb stones from the churchyard, being satisfied that the proposal had been sufficiently publicised and no memorial owner had expressed objection to the works being carried out.