· Right to burial
In a consecrated churchyard every parishioner has a right of burial in the churchyard, provided there is space available and the churchyard has not been closed for burials by Order in Council. In addition any person whose name is on the electoral roll of the parish at the time of their death also has a right to burial. So too has any person dying in the parish, whoever that person is.
No other person can be buried in the churchyard without the consent of the PCC. If the incumbent declines to allow the burial of a person who has no right of burial, his or her decision shall be final.
There is no right of burial in any particular part of a churchyard.
· Reservation of a grave spaces
The Riverside Parishes policy is not to allow the reserving of grave spaces for burial in the churchyard or for interment of ashes in areas for cremated remains.
· Where a grave space has been designated by the PCC as a burial plot for multiple burials, i.e. a double or triple grave or a family vault.
· If a faculty has been granted by the Chancellor reserving a grave space in the churchyard.
An incumbent cannot grant or assure anyone of a right of burial in a particular place in the churchyard or area for cremated remains. It is possible to reserve a grave space, in exceptional circumstances, for a parishioner or non- parishioner by grant of faculty by the Chancellor.
Such grant of faculty removes the right of the incumbent to position a burial in that place. Faculties are only granted however, after assurances are given of available space and evidence of support of the incumbent and the PCC that an exception to the stated policy exists. A completed form, with such evidence of support, a clearly marked plan - showing the position of the proposed reserved space and the appropriate fee once received by the Registry are forwarded to the Chancellor of the Diocese for approval and his decision in the matter shall be final.
· Ownership of the churchyard
The ‘ownership’ of the churchyard is vested in the incumbent for the use of the parishioners (in a vacancy the ‘ownership’ is vested in the Diocesan Bishop)
The exercise of the right of burial, interment of cremated remains, the reservation of a grave space by faculty, the erection of a memorial do not confer any rights of ownership upon the relatives of the deceased person or upon any other persons in respect of the churchyard itself.
· Ownership of memorials
The ‘owner’ of a churchyard memorial is defined as the person who erected the monument in question and after his/her death the heir or heirs at law of the person or persons in whose memory the monument was erected. The primary responsibility for upkeep falls on the owners of the memorial who are the heirs of the person or persons commemorated. However, when the heirs cannot be traced, because the maintenance of the churchyard in a safe state is prima facie the responsibility of the PCC, it must bear the responsibility for any dangerous monuments within the churchyard. The PCC must take appropriate steps to deal with any dangerous situation, such as an unsafe monument such action will be limited by the funds at its disposal.
· Erection of monuments
The erection of a memorial in a churchyard or the alteration or removal of any existing memorial, or the introduction of any object ( such as, but not exclusively benches and containers for flowers ) into a churchyard is a privilege not a right.
Permission must always be obtained from the incumbent and PCC before any such matters can proceed. In law a faculty is required before the erection of any memorial. But in practical terms in exercise of his jurisdiction the Chancellor has delegated limited power to the incumbent (or in a vacancy to the Area Dean) to permit the erection of grave stones and to allow simple alterations to existing memorials if and only if the Chancellors regulations relating to grave stones are fully complied with.
· Grave stones
Materials, sizes, design and inscriptions of all memorials to be erected in a churchyard must follow and comply with the Chancellors guidelines for grave stones and details of all proposed memorials must be submitted to the incumbent for approval before any such work is undertaken.
· Areas for cremated remains
A specific area for the burial of cremated remains is usually set aside. Cremated remains should be reverently poured into a specially prepared hole in the ground between 18 and 24 inches deep. The scattering or strewing of cremated remains is not permitted. If the cremated remains are to be interred in a container, it must be of perishable material, preferably wood.
It is the policy in the Riverside Parishes that no visible markings on individual spaces are allowed, but plaques are permitted following the guidelines below:
Plaques must be of a uniform size 12 x 12 x 2 inches, with tight control (exercised by the PCC) over the location of the plaques. The plaque to be located at the site of the interment.
Plaques shall be of natural stone / slate in harmony with the church building itself. The stone, once chosen shall apply to all future memorials in that area. A hole should not be cut into the plaque in order to take a flower receptacle and the plaques positioned such that a mower may pass over them to maintain the area in good order.
Any inscription on the plaque shall be simple and reverent and be incised or in relief and may be black, white or grey. The inscription on the plaque should be approved by the incumbent and the PCC. The type of inscriptive lettering, once chosen, shall apply to all future plaques.
If cremated remains are interred in an existing grave a separate memorial or grave stone is not permitted, though an inscription may be added to the grave stone.
· Trees in the churchyard.
Maintenance of trees in the churchyard falls to the PCC and they are responsible to ensure all trees within the churchyard are safe and steps taken to remedy any unsafe tree within the churchyard.
Planting of trees in the churchyard is at the discretion of the incumbent and PCC and details of the type and proposed planting position of any tree must be submitted for their approval prior to any such action being undertaken.
· Sundry points
Confetti. The throwing of confetti is permitted, however the Riverside Parishes policy for our churches is that the throwing of confetti should be at the church gate and not in the churchyard.
Consideration to the maintenance of churchyards with regard to mowing and control of pests and vermin will be at the discretion of the PCC. Striking a balance to keep churchyards maintained and cared for, whilst having consideration to the provision of areas for wildlife to flourish in suitable areas within the churchyard.