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Alphabetical Index of all judgments on this web site as at 1 October 2022

Index by Dioceses of 2022 judgments on this web site as at 1 October 2022

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 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.

A baby had died two days old in 2014, and a memorial with kerbs and chippings had been erected on his grave without the authority of a faculty or even the approval of a priest. The memorial was of black polished stone and kerbs, and the inscription on the stone included the words 'OUR LITTLE PRINCE' and 'MUMMY AND DADDY LOVE YOU XXX', whilst the words ''FLY HIGH OUR BABY JJ' were inscribed on the kerb at the foot of the grave.  The proposed inscription in respect of the petitioner's father included 'OUR KING' and 'DAD AND GRANDAD/ALL THE WORLD FOR EVER AND A DAY/XXX'. Prior to installation of the memorial, the petitioner had been told by a churchwarden (during an interregnum) that there were no restrictions on the type of memorial she could have. In 2022 the child's mother petitioned for retrospective permission for the memorial and for a further inscription to be added in respect of her father. The Deputy Chancellor was unhappy about many of the features of the memorial, which were outside the churchyards regulations, but in the exceptional circumstances of the family having been badly misled so many years ago, he granted a faculty.

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 local branch of the Royal British legion wished to place a war memorial in the churchyard at its own expense. There were two objectors (neither of them a party opponent), one objecting to the proposed type of stone, and the other objecting to the proposed location of the memorial, the colour of it and the lettering. The Chancellor granted a faculty.

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 petitioner wished to erect in the churchyard a memorial to his late wife. The proposed stone was light grey granite, polished on its face. The Parochial Church Council objected to the use of granite. Local churchyard regulations provided for sandstone to be used, to blend in with the sandstone of the Grade I listed church, and in the area used for burials since 1947 the memorials were exclusively of sandstone. The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty for the use of granite. Granite would look out of place amongst the existing sandstone memorials. And to allow granite could upset those already denied the opportunity of having granite, and might generate an expectation that granite could be permitted in future.

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.