The Parochial Church Council (PCC) has responsibility for the maintenance of their churchyard.
It is the Church's privilege and honour to care for churchyards and those within them. On this page we cover:
Churchyards are special places. They are spaces which exist for both the living and those who have died. If a church has a churchyard that is still open for burials, a person who has been living or has died in the parish has the right to be buried there or to have their ashes interred.
As consecrated ground - made sacred by a bishop - they are placed under the care and protection of the Church, giving them a special status in law. This doesn’t mean churchyards are just for people who are members of the church – it is for the whole community.
It does mean, however, that churches have a duty of care to all those who use these shared spaces and to maintain them as a places of peace and beauty, and reflecting the Christian context of the churchyard, now and for future generations.
To help do this, there are a set of diocesan regulations which churches are legally obliged to follow.
The Churchyard Regulations govern what is allowed within the churchyard including:
the types of memorials that can be installed;
the materials and inscriptions that can used; and
- even the types of graveyard gifts that can be left.
These regulations are drawn up by the Chancellor of the Diocese.
Every diocese has its own Churchyard Regulations, and while many points are the same throughout the country, there may be differences from diocese to diocese. The vicar is allowed to authorise memorials, provided they comply with the Churchyard Regulations.
- Download a copy of The Churchyard Regulations
Many people are not aware that there are guidelines in place for headstones, to help to ensure that the churchyard remains an appropriate setting for many years to come. It can be quite upsetting for people to choose a certain headstone only to find it cannot be approved.
There is no automatic right to a churchyard memorial. All memorials have to be approved before they are installed.
If somone wishes to have a memorial that does not comply with the Regulations, they will need to apply to the Chancellor of the Diocese for permission (a faculty), for which there is a fee. The Diocesan Registry is able to send out an application form for this and give details of the current fees.
Communicating with people clearly and sensitively about the Churchyard Regulations is really important, as choosing the final resting place for a loved one can often be a sensitive, and sometimes difficult pastoral issue.
If you would like more advice on this aspect of the management of your churchyard, please contact the DAC or the Communications team.
Work in churchyards falls under faculty jurisdiction including repair works to boundary walls and lychgates, the creation of new paths, the introduction of benches, repairs to memorials, and tree work.
If you are in any doubt whether a faculty will be needed, please contact the DAC Secretary who will be able to advise you further.