MAY I add something to your article about churchyards
(5 June), please?
For many years, besides being the PCC treasurer, I was also
chairman of the churchyard committee of our church. The churchyard
is 12.5 acres, and there are more than 12,500 graves; so there are
probably more than 20,000 people (or their ashes) buried in the
The churchyard is still open, and we received a grant from
the local authority to assist with maintenance, mainly because
there is no civic cemetery in the town. We do not make any
distinction as to who is buried there. The upkeep of the whole area
is a huge problem, and grass-cutting is part of it.
To help with this, many kerb sets were removed in the 1950s,
although no paperwork exists to show how this was achieved. In
2007, we repeated the exercise under my chairmanship. We sought a
faculty; we checked with the planning authorities; and we persuaded
the local papers to carry the story. I met about a dozen objectors:
in some cases, we agreed to leave the sets; in other cases, the
objectors agreed to support the project.
As a result, there were no formal objections to the
Chancellor, who gave permission for certain sections to be cleared
at once. Permission for other sections to be done in due course was
devolved to the Archdeacon.
The project was not easy. Contractors removed all the kerb
sets, carefully recording where the inscribed ones were to be
returned. The area was then re-seeded where necessary, and the
inscribed ones were returned and set into the ground. While all
this was going on, the area looked bad, and it was reported in the
local paper as looking like the Battle of the Somme. My telephone
was red-hot. But we got through it, and the result had been very
successful. It has saved many hours of work.
So, to summarise: we did not remove the headstones; we
removed uninscribed kerb sets. Inscribed kerb sets are now flush
with the ground - names upwards - so that the mower can go over
With regard to finance, I wound up 20 or so little trusts
that were for the maintenance of graves, and sought permission to
use the funds "for the upkeep of the churchyard". I used all of it
- and some more - on this project.
It seems that our DAC may be slightly more sympathetic than
others in the country. We have obtained blanket permissions to vary
the restrictions on highly polished headstones, and also to allow
vertical cremation headstones. Now we have a Natural Burial area as
THIS correspondent not only tells the story, but explains what
is involved in possible changes to a churchyard. Further advice is
available on the Churchcare website (www.churchcare.co.uk), in
the guidance section.
Send issues and questions to maggie email@example.com.