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
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
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.