St John the Baptist, Cookham Dean

Encounter God through warm hospitality and inspired worship

Churchyard Regulations

All parishioners, non-parishioners whose names appear on the Church Electoral Roll, and non-residents who die in the parish, have a legal right to burial in the churchyard.  For the burial of other non-parishioners, the permission of the Vicar and Churchwardens is required. The fee for the burial of a non-parishioner may be higher than that for a parishioner.

 1. Procedure for the Introduction of Memorials

Permission must be obtained for the introduction of any memorial.  Simple upright headstones (in respect of burials) and horizontal ledger stones (to commemorate the interment of cremated remains) may be authorised by the vicar in accordance with the terms and conditions given below; but other types of memorial including sculpture and crosses, must be authorised by the Chancellor under faculty.  Applications for specially designed and appropriate memorials will be sympathetically considered by the Chancellor.

Every application to erect a memorial or place anything whatsoever or to do any works in the churchyard must be made in writing to the vicar, in the first instance, using the appropriate Diocese of Oxford Application Form.  Written permission to erect a memorial must be obtained from the vicar before accepting an estimate or otherwise entering into a contract with a funeral director, stonemason or craftsman.  A minimum period of six months must elapse between the interment of a person to be commemorated and the approval of a headstone memorial by the vicar.

 2. Dimensions of Headstone

Headstones may be no larger than 1200mm (4ft) high, measured from the surface of the ground, 900mm (3ft) wide and 150mm (6in) thick. They may be no less than 75mm (3in) thick (except in the case of slate memorials, which may be thinner but no less than 38 mm (1.5in) thick.)

Ledger stones must be laid flat so that the upper surface is flush with the ground.  The maximum permitted size for a ledger stone is 460mm (18 in) square.

 3.  Base and Foundation Slab

A headstone may stand on a stone base, provided that it is an integral part of the design, is connected to the monument by non-ferrous dowels and does not project more than 50 mm (2in) away from the place of burial and 205mm (8 in) towards the place of burial.  Due regard must be paid to the nature of the ground and the problem of settlement.  Ideally, headstones should be long enough to be inserted directly into the ground at sufficient depth to ensure stability, otherwise they must be supported by a pre-cast concrete shoe, joined to the monument with non-ferrous dowels and not visible after the work of introducing the monument is complete.

 4. Materials

All memorials must be made of natural stone with non-reflecting finish, or of hardwood.

A headstone or ledger stone is not permitted if it is black, blue, red or green (or appears to be any of these colours) or is otherwise brightly coloured.  The use of marble, synthetic stone or plastic and painted surfaces is not permitted.

 5. Sculpture

Figure sculpture and other statuary are not discouraged, but must be authorised by faculty.

 6. Designs

Ledger stones must be rectangular but this restriction does not apply to headstones.  Headstones with curved tops may be considered to be preferable to straight-edged ones.  Headstones and Ledger stones may not take the form of a statue or a particular object such as a heart, a person, animal or other figure and photographs, porcelain portraits or glass shades are not permitted.

 7. Epitaphs

Inscriptions must be simple and reverent, and may include felicitous quotations from literary sources provided they are not contrary to the doctrine of the Church of England.  Inscriptions must be incised, or in relief.  Plastic or other inserted lettering is not permitted.  Additions to an inscription at a later date, following a subsequent interment in the same grave or for other suitable reason, are permitted but must be authorised by the vicar and the lettering, lay-out and wording must be consistent with the original inscription.

The mason's name may be inscribed at the side or on the reverse in unleaded letters, no larger than 13 mm (0.5 in).

 8. Flowers

Cut flowers in an unbreakable, removable container, wreaths and potted plants may be placed on graves, but they must be removed as soon as they appear to be withered.  No artificial flowers are allowed except for Remembrance Day poppies and traditional Christmas wreaths and these should be removed after a period of not more than one month.

9. Churchyard Maintenance

It is greatly appreciated when relatives care for graves, for which they have a responsibility , but in order to facilitate mowing and the general care of the churchyard the following points must be observed:-

(i) Bulbs and small plants may be planted in the soil of the grave but not trees or shrubs and there should be no encroachment beyond the area of the grave as first dug which is usually no more than 750mm (30 in) in width.

(ii) No kerbs, railings, fences or any other edging markers are permitted.

(iii) No stone or glass chippings are allowed.

(iv) The use of glass or other breakable containers for cut flowers is highly undesirable.

Any grave mounds remaining after twelve months will normally be levelled.  Faded flowers and dead pot plants are likely to be removed as part of churchyard maintenance.

Memorials remain the property of the person or persons responsible for their erection, who are responsible for their maintenance.

These regulations are based on those issued by the Diocese of Oxford (effective from 1st January 2017) and have been adopted for local use by the Parochial Church Council.
The full regulations as issued by Diocese of Oxford can be viewed here.