Judgments on Memorials

Judgements of the Consistory Court regarding petitions about churchyard memorials.

These are set out in the pages below.
Please note the two examples given here from Coventry and Chichester dioceses that are particularly good in outlining principles for questions and situations that frequently arise. 

Diocese of Coventry Judgment

Bulkington St James - March 2018

This judgment comes from the Diocese of Coventry and not Lichfield. However, the judgment considers arguments which are often put forward by petitioners and it identifies those arguments which are compelling and which are not. It may therefore be useful for those considering such proposals.

Summary: Petition for a dark grey, granite, polished (on the face) memorial with silver, incised lettering inside of an image of an open book. The proposal also included kerb stones and a granite vase with a separate inscription. The faculty was granted on the premise that the memorial and kerb stones would not look out of place in the churchyard, (other memorials nearby were the same), subject to the vase not bearing an inscription.

Diocese of Chichester Judgment

Plumpton with East Chiltington cum Novington - December 2018

This judgment concerns situations where memorials had been put into churchyards with authority. Some had been authorised by the incumbent, but were beyond the scope of the churchyard regulations and were therefore unauthorised; some were simply not authorised at all. There were also several items such as chippings, railings, kerbstones, ornaments, artificial flowers, and box hedge planting, on several graves. The judgment is from the Chancellor of the Chichester Diocese and so is not automatically binding in the Diocese of Lichfield, but it is persuasive as to how matters might have to be handled if similar situations are reported here.

It is known that there are churchyards in this diocese where the Regulations are not adhered to.

  • Clergy should bear in mind the Chancellor's view that a cleric who fails to adhere to the diocesan Churchyard Regulations exposes him or herself to censure in the Consistory Court and may be ordered to pay the costs of faculty proceedings and/or of remedial action required in the churchyard. In addition, such neglect of duty may give rise to a complaint under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003;
  • Monumental Masons should pay particular attention to the comments at paragraph 28 and 29 of the judgment in relation to the representations being made on the forms of applications under the regulations for memorials the representation by the Mason that a monument was within the regulations when it was expressly excluded was deprecated by the Chancellor, as was the practice of signing pp someone else; the Chancellor says that These are serious matters, which can have significant consequences. Monumental masons must ensure that applicants sign applications and appreciate the content of what they are signing.

All clergy should actively apply the Churchyard Regulations which are applicable in this diocese, and take care to ensure that the Churchyards for which they are responsible are cared for properly.

2022-07 July: Newchapel St James the Apostle

The petitioners wished to erect a memorial of irregular shape, made of blue pearl granite (with gold lettering) and bearing the inscription of 'Dad'. The PCC had reservations about the introduction of the memorial both in style and the use of 'Dad' rather than 'Father'. The Deputy Chancellor found that the proposed memorial would not jar visually or in sentiment in this particular graveyard the faculty was granted.

2022-07 July: Pelsall St Michael and All Angels

The petitioner wished to install a memorial on her mother's grave. The memorial did not conform to the churchyards regulations, being in the shape of a large heart with two smaller hearts as flower containers. Also, the petitioner wished to have her mother's maiden name on the memorial, rather than her married name. Given the number of heart-shaped memorials close to the grave, the Deputy Chancellor decided to permit the large heart-shaped stone, and also the small heart-shaped flower holders, provided that they were fixed to the plinth. As to the inscription, although the deceased had not consistently used her maiden name after being divorced, she had expressed a wish for her maiden name to appear on her memorial. The Deputy Chancellor considered that there was no objection to the deceased's maiden name being used, as it was the name known by those whom the deceased knew well, but he recommended that, to avoid confusion, both the married name and maiden name should be entered in the Burial Register and on the churchyard plan.

Judgments on Memorials before 2022

Judgements made in 2021 and earlier

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