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Alphabetical Index of all judgments on this web site as at 1 October 2022

Index by Dioceses of 2022 judgments on this web site as at 1 October 2022

Memorials

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The parish priest sought a direction from the Chancellor as to whether it was permissible, within the diocesan churchyards regulations, to allow a memorial inscription which included Chinese characters. The Chancellor determined that, notwithstanding the recent decision in Re St. Giles Exhall [2020] ECC Cov 1, that the Irish expression, 'In ár gcroíthe go deo', could only appear on a headstone if it was accompanied by its English translation, ‘in our hearts forever’, it was appropriate to include a phrase in a foreign language, without a translation, provided that the phrase did not offend Christian doctrine or teaching. The Chancellor therefore made a declaration giving appropriate guidance to the clergy of the diocese as an addendum to the churchyards regulations.

The Deputy Chancellor refused to grant a faculty for a memorial which was outside the diocesan churchyards regulations in a number of aspects, including: the design in the shape of a double heart; the stone wider than the maximum permitted under the regulations; polished blue granite; a green and white floral motif.

The Petitioner sought a faculty to erect in Maughold churchyard, forthwith and before his death, a memorial in the shape of a Buddhist stupa. The memorial was to include the inscription: 'He wanted green dandelions', a statement described as a Buddhist 'koan', an illogical statement designed to aid meditation. The Vicar General refused to grant a faculty to permit the petitioner to place the stupa in the churchyard in advance of his death, and stated that the inscription would have to be considered when and if an application for a faculty was made after the Petitioner's death.

The husband and wife petitioners sought permission to include on a memorial to the wife's father the words 'Dad' and 'Pap' . The Chancellor issued a judgment in which he refused permission, as he considered that informal terms of address were not generally suitable for use as a public record on a memorial. And whilst there were a few examples of similar words being used in other parts of the churchyard (none near the grave in question), the Chancellor took the view that so few breaches of the churchyards regulations did not justify allowing further breaches. However, following further representations from the petitioners, that there were already 34 examples in the churchyard of the use of informal descriptions, the Chancellor issued a revised judgment in which he gave permission for the use of the informal descriptions in this case.

The petitioner applied for a a confirmatory faculty permitting the continued presence in the churchyard of a memorial made of white marble 55 centimetres high in the shape of a cross, with some heart motifs and a brass plaque on it. The memorial did not comply with the churchyard regulations.  Neither the Diocesan Advisory Committee nor the Parochial Church Council approved of the memorial. The Chancellor dismissed the petition and directed that the stone should be removed by the petitioner within 2 months, in default of which the stone should be removed by the incumbent and churchwardens. However, the Chancellor gave the petitioner 14 days in which to apply in writing with reasons why the order should not be enforced and that the dismissal of the petition should remain on hold in the meantime.

The petitioner's late father had been buried in the churchyard in 2000. Her mother died in 2017, and the petitioner wished to carry out her mother's wishes to have kerbs placed around her father's grave and her mother's ashes scattered on the gravel. The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty to authorise kerbs and gravel to be placed on the grave. Although there were some other graves with kerbs in the churchyard, the grave in question was next to the footpath and the first in a long line of graves with no kerbs, and kerbs would make maintenance of the churchyard more difficult. The Chancellor also refused to allow the scattering of ashes, as being contrary to the churchyards regulations and Canon B 38 (4)(a).  Also, the Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure 1992 refers to the “burial” of cremated remains.

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.

The Chancellor declined to allow the addition of an inscription on a floor tile in the sanctuary of the church in memory of a former parish clerk, but instead allowed a memorial to be placed on the wall at the west end of the nave, opposite a plaque in memory of another former parish clerk.

The petition proposed the addition of three names said to have been omitted from the First World War Memorial in Langtoft. In his judgment, the Chancellor set out the criteria he would apply in this or any future similar application: (1) if the name was recorded on a war memorial elsewhere, the presumption would be that the family had chosen to have the name recorded in the other place; (2) if the name was not recorded elsewhere, the Chancellor would have to decide, on a balance of probabilimemties, if the omission was a mistake. In the present case, two of the names were recorded elsewhere. The third name was the same as one already on the war memorial, but alleged to be a different person. The Chancellor was not satisfied that the the third name related to a different person from the one whose name was already on the memorial. He therefore decided not to grant a faculty authorising any of the names to be added to the memorial.

The petitioner applied for approval of a memorial in memory of her late husband. The proposed memorial was to be 6 feet wide and 4 feet 6 inches high on a 7 feet wide base, so that it would cover not only the head of the grave of the deceased, but also the head of the adjacent grave reserved for the petitioner. The headstone would take the form of two large interlocking heart shapes, each of which would be flanked by two smaller heart shapes. The stone would bear gold lettering and images of a horse's head and a riverbank scene, to reflect the life of the deceased, a leading member of the local traveller community. The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty for the memorial as proposed, because its size was considerably larger than the churchyards regulations would normally allow, and it would dominate the area of the churchyard where it would be erected. He permitted a smaller memorial in the style requested, provided that it did not exceed 4 feet 4 inches in height and 4 feet in width.