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Alphabetical Index of all judgments on this web site as at 20 January 2022

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After considering the judgments of the Chancellor of the Diocese of Durham in [2018] ECC Dur 2, [2021] Dur 2, and  [2021] Dur 3, the Auditor of the Chancery Court of York refused permission to appeal against the Chancellor's decision that a ledger stone bearing an enamelled photograph should be removed from an area of the churchyard set aside for cremated remains.

In October 2019, the Chancellor had granted a faculty for an upright memorial stone to mark the interment of cremated remains in an area of the churchyard set aside by faculty for cremated remains, notwithstanding that the specification for the memorial was not within the terms of the faculty setting aside the area or within the diocesan churchyard rules.  The memorial was in memory of the petitioner's son, who had been a Royal Marine Commando. A year later a horizontal ledger stone, bearing an enamelled photograph, appeared next to the headstone. The incumbent tried without success to find out from the petitioner how the ledger stone had come to be installed, and so referred the matter, via the Registry, to the Chancellor. The Chancellor directed that the ledger stone should be removed.

A horizontal memorial ledger was introduced without permission into an area of the churchyard set aside for cremated remains. Fixed to the ledger was an enamelled photograph of the deceased, a former soldier, whose ashes were interred in the grave. The Chancellor had previously declined a request for a ledger stone. In January 2021 the Chancellor granted a faculty authorising its removal. The deceased's mother applied for the Chancellor's decision to be set aside on the grounds that there was discrimination against the family, there being other similar memorials in the churchyard. The Chancellor rejected the mother's application. By visiting the churchyard, the Chancellor satisfied himself that there was no other ledger stone in the area for cremated remains. Furthermore, it was inappropriate to allow an enamelled photograph to be affixed to a memorial, as there was 'a risk that others may follow suit, with an incremental detrimental effect on the whole character of the churchyard'.

A churchwarden of nearly 40 years standing had died in 2004, and at some time after his death a memorial had been erected in the church, without faculty, bearing his family crest and a brief inscription. The stone was of poor quality and had been fixed to the inside stonework of the church with four ordinary screws. Since the memorial's installation the inscription had become difficult to read. A churchwarden, discovering that no faculty had been granted for the memorial, applied for a confirmatory faculty and for permission to have the inscription repainted in black. The Chancellor determined that it was appropriate to have a memorial inside the church to such a long-serving churchwarden, who had also served on the Parish Council. She granted a faculty subject to conditions regarding a better form of mounting of the memorial, the colour of the lettering, amendments to the wording and the method of fixing.

A farmer and his son wished to install in the the churchyard a memorial to the farmer's late wife, comprising a small unpolished stone statue of a sheep on a plinth, inscribed in memory of the deceased and with the additional words “The Lord is my Shepherd”. The Chancellor granted a faculty.

The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty to authorise a proposed memorial which was outside the Churchyards Regulations by reason of size (base width 60ins and stone 48ins high on top of a plinth 14ins high); type of stone and finish (blue polished granite); and inscription (overly long and sentimental message addressed by the family to the deceased). The Chancellor made it clear that the presence of other memorials in the churchyard which were outside the regulations and installed without faculty did not oblige him to authorise further similar memorials.

The Chancellor considered two petitions: (1) a petition by the deceased's partner to replace a memorial installed without authority by the deceased's son, and (2) a petition by the Archdeacon to replace the existing memorial with a memorial containing only the names and dates of birth and death of the deceased. The Chancellor had asked the Archdeacon to petition, so that, in default of an agreement between the parties as to a replacement memorial, the Chancellor was able to grant a faculty for a memorial with no contentious inscription. The Chancellor granted a faculty on petition (1), on the basis of an amended inscription agreed by the parties, and granted a faculty in relation to petition (2) in case the proposed memorial approved under petition (1) was not installed.

The war memorial in the churchyard recorded those who died in the First World War. The petitioners wished to add a plaque to record those who died in the Second World War. The plaque had already been cast, but not installed, prior to the petition being presented to the Chancellor. The Chancellor grnated a faculty, subject to the words “YOUR LIFE! OUR FREEDOM!"  
being removed from the plaque.

A stonemason had placed a memorial in the churchyard without the authority of the incumbent or a faculty. The Rector and PCC objected to the memorial, and the stonemason applied for a faculty for its retention. The memorial was outside the regulations in that the memorial was not flush with the level of the ground and at a slight sloping angle (the rear edge was higher above the ground than the front edge) and the face of the stone was polished. However, the Chancellor granted a faculty on the basis that, " ... the lack of uniformity in the immediately surrounding area means that the extent of that non-compliance is not sufficient to justify ordering the removal of the memorial."

The petitioner's daughter had died in tragic circumstances at the age of 23. The petitioner wished to have her daughter's ashes interred and a four feet high memorial stone erected in a part of the churchyard where the memorial could be seen from the petitioner's home. Although there was a churchyard policy that only flat stones should be allowed to mark cremated remains, the proposed location for the interment and memorial was away from the area where cremated remains were normally interred, and where there were other large memorials. The Chancellor determined that the pastoral reasons given for allowing the proposal were sufficient to justify permission being granted for the erection of the monument.