Ecclesiastical Law Association

Ecclesiastical Law Association

Judgments: Memorials

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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 Chancellor declined to allow the addition of an inscription on a floor tile in the sanctuary of the church in memory of a former parish clerk, but instead allowed a memorial to be placed on the wall at the west end of the nave, opposite a plaque in memory of another former parish clerk.

The petitioner applied for approval of a memorial in memory of her late husband. The proposed memorial was to be 6 feet wide and 4 feet 6 inches high on a 7 feet wide base, so that it would cover not only the head of the grave of the deceased, but also the head of the adjacent grave reserved for the petitioner. The headstone would take the form of two large interlocking heart shapes, each of which would be flanked by two smaller heart shapes. The stone would bear gold lettering and images of a horse's head and a riverbank scene, to reflect the life of the deceased, a leading member of the local traveller community. The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty for the memorial as proposed, because its size was considerably larger than the churchyards regulations would normally allow, and it would dominate the area of the churchyard where it would be erected. He permitted a smaller memorial in the style requested, provided that it did not exceed 4 feet 4 inches in height and 4 feet in width.

Mr. Gordon Mills died in 1983 and was buried in the churchyard at Welcombe. A memorial had been erected over his grave, leaving room for a further inscription. Some years before, his marriage had broken down, and following separation from his wife had lived with Mrs. Margaret Walker. Following Mrs. Walker's death in 2000, one of Mr. Mills's daughters and a granddaughter applied for permission to add the following inscription to the memorial: "Also his beloved Margaret (Walker) much loved Mum and Nan 31-12-1915 - 24-2-2000". Four of Mr. Mills's children objected to the inscription. The Chancellor decided that "Mum and Nan" might be misleading, as Mrs. Walker was not the natural mother and grandmother to all Mr. Mills's children and grandchildren. He also thought "loved" and "beloved" was repetitious. He therefore granted a faculty authorising: "Also his beloved companion Margaret Walker 31st December 1915 - 24th February 2000".

The Chancellor refused to allow a design of the Masonic square and compasses to be added to a memorial to the Petitioner's late husband, who had been a Freemason for forty years, latterly holding high office in Freemasonry.

The petitioner wished to erect in the churchyard a polished black headstone with gold lettering, in memory of his father. The PCC opposed the proposal, as they were trying to ensure that all new memorials fell within the CHurchyards Regulations. The DAC and Archdeacon were not in favour of the proposal. The Chancellor dismissed the petition and directed that the petitioner should pay the costs.

The Vicar and a churchwarden applied for a faculty to authorise retrospectively the laying flat in the churchyard of 51 memorials which had been found to be unstable in 2015 and also to authorise the laying flat of memorial stones deemed to be unstable by a future inspection. There had been much disquiet locally about the laying flat of so many memorials in 2015, and the Chancellor was concerned that there had not been adequate notification to families who might have been contacted prior to the laying down of the memorials. However, he granted a faculty, subject to a condition that in future no memorial should be laid flat without the express approval of the Archdeacon.

The petitioner requested permission for a memorial in the form of a small York Stone boulder with a slate plaque on its front face, in memory of her late husband. The memorial was ostensibly outside the churchyard regulations and the Diocesan Advisory Committee did not approve it. After considering the principles to be applied when deciding whether to allow a memorial outside the regulations, the Chancellor decided that this was an appropriate case in which he should grant a faculty.

The petitioner sought permission to add kerbs and chippings to a memorial on an existing grave. The reasons given were: (1) the petitioner wished to have the name of his late wife and in due time the names of his brother and himself recorded on the grave, there being insufficient space on the existing memorial; (2) chippings secured by kerbs would eliminate or minimise recent invasive damage from moles; (3) there was a precedent for kerbs and chippings on neighbouring graves. The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty, but indicated that he would look favourably on an application for a faculty to replace the existing stone with a larger stone which would have room for additional names.