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A columbarium?

09 August 2013

August 8th, 1913.

WRITING in the current issue of his parish magazine, Archdeacon Escreet, vicar of the Church of the Ascension, Blackheath, says in reference to the deposition of the cremated remains of a former parishioner in a little vessel in the south wall of the church, that "the Chancellor of the diocese . . . issued the necessary 'faculty.' This is, we believe, the first faculty of the kind; we hope it will not be the last. In old days the bodies of our forefathers were laid to rest in the churchyard, and there returned to their elements - 'Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life.' This thought hallows the ground and mingles with the thoughts of the worshippers. It is this that often makes the village churchyard tug at our hearts. So it may be, as cremation becomes increasingly used, that the remains of those we love, placed in the walls of the churches, will remind us of the unseen company with whom we unite our praises around the throne of God."

The Archdeacon is no doubt correct with respect to the use of the walls of a church for the purpose of a columbarium, but it will be remembered that some years ago the Chancellor of the diocese of London granted a faculty for the interment of an urn beneath the floor of a church, but refused one for its insertion within the walls. Whether the effect of a columbarium will be precisely the same as that of a churchyard with its sacred associations remains to be seen. From a purely aesthetic point of view, it is a matter for considerable doubt.

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