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Alphabetical Index of all judgments on this web site as at 4 June 2020

Index by Dioceses of all judgments on this web site, as at 4 June 2020

Memorials

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The petitioners wished the Chancellor to authorise the setting aside of an area for cremated remains in the churchyard extension and to authorise a variation of the standard churchyards regulations in order to allow the incumbent to permit in future the erection of upright memorials and 'desktop memorials' in the churchyard extension to mark interments of cremated remains. They also asked the Chancellor to grant a confirmatory faculty in respect of upright memorials and 'desktop memorials' already installed to mark interments of cremated remains in the churchyard and churchyard extension during the past 18 years. The Chancellor was satisfied that the petitioners had made out a satisfactory case for the proposals and granted a faculty accordingly

The petitioner wished to place a memorial on the grave of his late wife. The Diocesan Advisory Committee did not approve of the design, a bronze plaque on a rough-hewn, wedge-shaped, local stone, as not befitting the setting. It also considered the inscription (which included a verse by Byron) too lengthy and over-personal. The Chancellor saw no reason to disallow the design of the memorial, but was concerned about the inscription. He determined to grant a faculty, subject to the Petitioner agreeing a suggested alternative inscription set out in the judgment, omitting the proposed verse or including an alternative verse from Holy Scripture or classical Christian poetry or hymnody.

When the petitioner was 16 years old, her mother had died. Five years later she wished to install a memorial over her mother's grave. She approached a local stonemason, chose a design, and the stone was erected at the grave. The petitioner had been unaware that permission was needed to erect the memorial, and the mason did not check that permission had been obtained before erecting the memorial. The memorial was an oval shaped grey slate stone on a rectangular base with an incised trough planter. At one side of the base was an image of a bumble bee and on the other side a Celtic cross. There were objections to the stone. The petitioner applied for a faculty to retain the stone. The two churchwardens became parties opponent. After considering the approaches of other Chancellors in a number of other judgments, the Chancellor decided not to grant a faculty and that the stone should be removed. He indicated that if the petitioner chose a stone within the churchyards regulations, he would permit the designs of the bumble bee and Celtic cross and the same inscription, subject to part of the inscription being in quotation marks (for reasons which will be apparent from the judgment).

The petitioner wished to introduce into the churchyard a polished dark grey granite memorial in the shape of a traditional Gypsy caravan. On the front would be a representation of the double doors of such a caravan with blank windows and the doors flanked on either side by the engraved representation of a lit hurricane lamp. An inscription would be placed on the left-hand door, with the right hand door capable of bearing a further inscription following a later interment in the grave. It was also proposed that on the reverse of the stone there would be a representation of the rear window of a Gypsy caravan, with curtains at the window and a suspended cage containing two songbirds visible through the window. It was also requested that below the window there should be etched a representation of a horse-drawn two-wheeled waggon. It was proposed that the etched designs and inscription should be silvered. The deceased had lived all his life in a traditional Gypsy caravan. The Deputy Chancellor approved the  memorial, with the exception of the representation of a waggon on the reverse side.

The Rector and Churchwardens petitioned to install a heraldic hatchment with the coat of arms of the Collins family of Adlestrop Park in the nave or in the north transept of the church. There were already in the church three hatchments of the Leigh family, who had owned Adlestrop Park from 1553 until it was sold to the Collins family during the last century. A parishioner objected that "Church hatchments were to mark the death of a ‘Lord of the Manor’ ... only a family which has strong ties over several generations should have such a display.”  The Chancellor was satisfied that hatchments, if displaying legally authorised Coats of Arms, can still with sufficient reason be introduced by Faculty. [Note: Jane Austen is believed to have regularly visited Adlestrop.]

The Dean of Arches allowed an appeal against the decision of the Chancellor of the Diocese, who refused to grant a confirmatory faculty for a memorial placed inside the church. The Dean pointed out that a faculty for a memorial inside a church should only be granted in exceptional circumstances. He found that in the present case there were exceptional circumstances, as the persons commemorated had been substantial benefactors of the church and the village over many years.

Faculty granted for the removal wooden and plastic kerbs from a number of graves.

In 2012, memorial kerbs had been removed from the churchyard without the authority of a faculty, causing distress to several family members of those buried in the churchyard. The Chancellor directed that the Team Vicar and Churchwardens should apply for a confirmatory faculty, in order that objections could be properly dealt with. Faculty granted, subject to conditions, including a requirement that kerbs should be reinstated, but laid flush with the ground.

An urgent faculty was sought for the temporary removal of two headstones from the churchyard to a place of safety. They had been erected in 1962 on the graves of music hall performers whose stage names incorporated a term which is a derogatory and offensive reference to black people. That word was included in the inscriptions. The chancellor granted the faculties, as a temporary expedient to protect the headstones from damage, noting the current Black Lives Matter movement. He gave directions for the future disposal of the matter, particularly the tracing of the respective heirs-at-law, who are the legal owner of the headstones. The Chancellor would determine at a future date whether the headstones be re-introduced, either unaltered or with the offensive wording erased or obscured; whether alternative headstones be substituted; or whether there should be some other resolution.

The Chancellor refused to permit a memorial bearing the masonic symbol of a square and compasses, because he considered that "wording or symbols which give rise to a real risk of offence or upset to a significant body of those visiting the churchyard will not be permitted."