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Alphabetical Index of all judgments on this web site as at 24 November 2021

Index by Dioceses of 2021 judgments on this web site, as at 24 November 2021

Memorials

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The incumbent and churchwardens wished to remove from the churchyard a headstone which had been introduced in December 2016 as a memorial to the mother and sister of the party opponent. A memorial had been erected in 1974, when the mother died. In 2016, when the daughter died, the stonemason submitted a memorial application in the standard form for a replacement memorial, which the incumbent approved. In due course the stonemason installed a memorial which was not in accordance with the approved application, and which had a number of features which were outside the churchyards regulations. The Chancellor ordered that the memorial should be removed and, as agreed between the stonemason and the party opponent, replaced by a new memorial at the expense of the stonemason. The stonemason was ordered to pay part of the Diocesan Registry costs and part of the party opponent's solicitors' costs.

Although the churchyards regulations did not normally permit memorial kerbs, the Chancellor granted a faculty to permit kerbs to be added to a memorial in the churchyard, there being a large number of well-tended memorials with kerbs in the area.

The petitioner wished to place a 'desk type' ledger stone in the churchyard. The Rector had indicted that she would object, as the type of stone was not covered by the churchyards regulations, which require ledger stones to be laid flush with the ground. However, the incumbent had recently approved such a stone, and there were other examples of the type of stone in the same area of the churchyard. Following the departure of the rector, one of the churchwardens objected to the stone. The Deputy Chancellor granted a faculty on the basis that (a) there was nothing offensive about the desk-style ledger stones which populate the particular area of the churchyard; (b) there were already several examples of the type of stone in that area; and (c) he was concerned that the church should be seen to be acting consistently towards applicants

The Petitioner requested a memorial designed as an open book, in memory of his brother, to match an existing memorial in memory of his mother. Faculty granted. Chancellor: "… having regard to the exceptional pastoral case made by the petitioner for having a memorial resembling that of the deceased's mother, I would be prepared to authorise one in this instance as an exception to the general rule on the basis that it did genuinely resemble that of the deceased's mother."

The cremated remains of the petitioner's son, a former Royal Marine, had been interred in an area of the churchyard set aside by faculty for the interment of cremated remains. The faculty stated that any interment may be marked by "a ledger stone or vase block". The churchyards regulations provide that "any burial without a headstone may have a horizontal stone ledger 9 inches (or 225mm) square, set flush with the turf." The petitioner wishes to have a headstone, measuring 20" wide by 12" high and 2" deep, on a base plinth, with a horizontal stone ledger measuring 3 feet by 2 feet. Very extensive inscriptions were proposed.The Chancellor was not prepared to grant a faculty, but indicated that he might be prepared to authorise a compromise proposal, in accordance with further advice from the Diocesan Advisory Committee.

After considering the judgments of the Chancellor of the Diocese of Durham in [2018] ECC Dur 2, [2021] Dur 2, and  [2021] Dur 3, the Auditor of the Chancery Court of York refused permission to appeal against the Chancellor's decision that a ledger stone bearing an enamelled photograph should be removed from an area of the churchyard set aside for cremated remains.

In October 2019, the Chancellor had granted a faculty for an upright memorial stone to mark the interment of cremated remains in an area of the churchyard set aside by faculty for cremated remains, notwithstanding that the specification for the memorial was not within the terms of the faculty setting aside the area or within the diocesan churchyard rules.  The memorial was in memory of the petitioner's son, who had been a Royal Marine Commando. A year later a horizontal ledger stone, bearing an enamelled photograph, appeared next to the headstone. The incumbent tried without success to find out from the petitioner how the ledger stone had come to be installed, and so referred the matter, via the Registry, to the Chancellor. The Chancellor directed that the ledger stone should be removed.

A horizontal memorial ledger was introduced without permission into an area of the churchyard set aside for cremated remains. Fixed to the ledger was an enamelled photograph of the deceased, a former soldier, whose ashes were interred in the grave. The Chancellor had previously declined a request for a ledger stone. In January 2021 the Chancellor granted a faculty authorising its removal. The deceased's mother applied for the Chancellor's decision to be set aside on the grounds that there was discrimination against the family, there being other similar memorials in the churchyard. The Chancellor rejected the mother's application. By visiting the churchyard, the Chancellor satisfied himself that there was no other ledger stone in the area for cremated remains. Furthermore, it was inappropriate to allow an enamelled photograph to be affixed to a memorial, as there was 'a risk that others may follow suit, with an incremental detrimental effect on the whole character of the churchyard'.

A farmer and his son wished to install in the the churchyard a memorial to the farmer's late wife, comprising a small unpolished stone statue of a sheep on a plinth, inscribed in memory of the deceased and with the additional words “The Lord is my Shepherd”. The Chancellor granted a faculty.

The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty to authorise a proposed memorial which was outside the Churchyards Regulations by reason of size (base width 60ins and stone 48ins high on top of a plinth 14ins high); type of stone and finish (blue polished granite); and inscription (overly long and sentimental message addressed by the family to the deceased). The Chancellor made it clear that the presence of other memorials in the churchyard which were outside the regulations and installed without faculty did not oblige him to authorise further similar memorials.