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Alphabetical Index of all judgments on this web site as at 20 January 2022

Index by Dioceses of 2021 judgments on this web site.

Memorials

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The petitioner wished to place a memorial on the grave of his late wife. The Diocesan Advisory Committee did not approve of the design, a bronze plaque on a rough-hewn, wedge-shaped, local stone, as not befitting the setting. It also considered the inscription (which included a verse by Byron) too lengthy and over-personal. The Chancellor saw no reason to disallow the design of the memorial, but was concerned about the inscription. He determined to grant a faculty, subject to the Petitioner agreeing a suggested alternative inscription set out in the judgment, omitting the proposed verse or including an alternative verse from Holy Scripture or classical Christian poetry or hymnody.

When the petitioner was 16 years old, her mother had died. Five years later she wished to install a memorial over her mother's grave. She approached a local stonemason, chose a design, and the stone was erected at the grave. The petitioner had been unaware that permission was needed to erect the memorial, and the mason did not check that permission had been obtained before erecting the memorial. The memorial was an oval shaped grey slate stone on a rectangular base with an incised trough planter. At one side of the base was an image of a bumble bee and on the other side a Celtic cross. There were objections to the stone. The petitioner applied for a faculty to retain the stone. The two churchwardens became parties opponent. After considering the approaches of other Chancellors in a number of other judgments, the Chancellor decided not to grant a faculty and that the stone should be removed. He indicated that if the petitioner chose a stone within the churchyards regulations, he would permit the designs of the bumble bee and Celtic cross and the same inscription, subject to part of the inscription being in quotation marks (for reasons which will be apparent from the judgment).

The petitioner wished to introduce into the churchyard a polished dark grey granite memorial in the shape of a traditional Gypsy caravan. On the front would be a representation of the double doors of such a caravan with blank windows and the doors flanked on either side by the engraved representation of a lit hurricane lamp. An inscription would be placed on the left-hand door, with the right hand door capable of bearing a further inscription following a later interment in the grave. It was also proposed that on the reverse of the stone there would be a representation of the rear window of a Gypsy caravan, with curtains at the window and a suspended cage containing two songbirds visible through the window. It was also requested that below the window there should be etched a representation of a horse-drawn two-wheeled waggon. It was proposed that the etched designs and inscription should be silvered. The deceased had lived all his life in a traditional Gypsy caravan. The Deputy Chancellor approved the  memorial, with the exception of the representation of a waggon on the reverse side.

The churchwardens wished to remove from the churchyard a headstone placed on a grave after permission was refused by the Area Dean. The owner of the memorial (himself a stonemason) claimed that he did not receive notice of refusal until after the memorial had been installed. The memorial was of black or very dark grey polished stone and comprised an upright stone with kerbs and a ledger stone covering the grave. The Chancellor decided that, if the owner of the memorial had gone about things correctly, she would have authorised the stone. Therefore she dismissed the petition for its removal, but required the owner of the memorial to pay the costs of the proceedings.

The Rector and Churchwardens petitioned to install a heraldic hatchment with the coat of arms of the Collins family of Adlestrop Park in the nave or in the north transept of the church. There were already in the church three hatchments of the Leigh family, who had owned Adlestrop Park from 1553 until it was sold to the Collins family during the last century. A parishioner objected that "Church hatchments were to mark the death of a ‘Lord of the Manor’ ... only a family which has strong ties over several generations should have such a display.”  The Chancellor was satisfied that hatchments, if displaying legally authorised Coats of Arms, can still with sufficient reason be introduced by Faculty. [Note: Jane Austen is believed to have regularly visited Adlestrop.]

The petitioner applied for a faculty to put kerbs around her late husband's grave. Footings for the kerbs had already been laid without a faculty first being obtained. Although there were several sets of kerbs in other parts of the churchyard, a decision had been made by the church in 1987 not to allow kerbs in the particular row where the petitioner had applied to reserve a grave, because the path at the foot of the graves narrowed, and to allow kerbs along the row would ultimately restrict the path and inhibit access for maintenance machinery. The widow had agreed at the time she reserved the grave that kerbs would not be allowed. The Deputy Vicar General dismissed the petition and directed that the kerb footings should be removed.

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 wooden and plastic kerbs from a number of graves.

The petitioner applied for approval of a memorial stone for the grave of his father, a former builder and stonemason, with inscriptions on both sides of the stone: on the front, the names and dates of birth and death of the deceased and the word 'Beloved'; and on the back a quotation from a poem by Rudyard Kipling ('Till the master of all good workmen shall set us to work anew') and an engraving of a trowel. The PCC objected to inscriptions on both sides of the stone, saying that it would set a precedent. The Team Rector, who had originally been happy with the proposal, later suggested that the trowel was inappropriate, as it was a symbol of Freemasonry, which might offend some people. The Chancellor determined that the design had artistic merit; that it would not establish a precedent, as there were already several stones in the churchyard with inscriptions on both sides; that the poem extract would look out of place on the front; and that the trowel was a symbol of the lifelong work of the deceased as a builder and stonemason, who had no connection with Freemasonry. Accordingly, the Chancellor granted a faculty.

In 2012, memorial kerbs had been removed from the churchyard without the authority of a faculty, causing distress to several family members of those buried in the churchyard. The Chancellor directed that the Team Vicar and Churchwardens should apply for a confirmatory faculty, in order that objections could be properly dealt with. Faculty granted, subject to conditions, including a requirement that kerbs should be reinstated, but laid flush with the ground.