HomeDiocese of Rochester rules for churchyards
Arranging a burial and caring for a grave at St Peter and St Paul, Seal
The death of someone close to you is always hard to deal with. As well as the sadness you feel at their loss, you may also feel overwhelmed by all the practical decisions which must be made at this time. We hope that the information on this page will answer some of the questions people often ask about burial and interment of ashes in Seal Churchyard, and help them to care for the grave afterwards. Please ask if there is anything else you would like to know.
WHO CAN BE BURIED IN SEAL CHURCHYARD?
The churchyard at St Peter and St Paul is very ancient, and there is very little remaining space for burials. For this reason, unless they are to be interred in an existing grave, we can only bury those who have the legal right to be interred here. These are:
People do not have to have been regular churchgoers or hold any particular religious beliefs to be buried here.
Unfortunately, because of the shortage of space, we cannot bury those who lived in the parish at some earlier stage of their lives but have subsequently moved away. However, at the discretion of the priest in charge, it may be possible to bury the cremated remains (ashes) of people who are not parishioners.
BURIAL OF ASHES
Burial of ashes can take place soon after the cremation, in which case the funeral directors will usually make the arrangements. Alternatively it can be arranged directly between the family and the priest at a later stage. There is normally a short (5 min.) service in the churchyard on these occasions, during which the ashes are poured into a hole in the ground. We do not bury ashes in caskets of any sort, as these take up more space, nor do we permit scattering of ashes on the surface of the graveyard.
Graves or the sites where ashes are buried can be marked with a memorial stone. The first step in arranging this is to talk to a funeral director or stonemason.
There are strict rules about the kind of stone used, the inscription on it and the way the grave is cared for later. These rules are made by the Diocese of Rochester, which has authority over all the parish churches in this area. The parish priest can’t give permission for anything outside these guidelines.
Details of these rules – the “Churchyard Regulations 1981” – can be found in the church porch or on the church website. Funeral directors and stonemasons also have copies. They will give you a form, which you will have to sign when you apply for a memorial, saying that you have read and will abide by these rules.
CARING FOR A GRAVE
We recognize how important it is for people to have a place in which they can mourn someone they have loved. It is natural for people to want to make the grave of their loved one special and personal. We try to be sensitive about this and to let people grieve in the way that they need to.
However, the churchyard is a public space which is used by many other people, including other mourners. We need to make sure, therefore, that graves are tended in ways that are acceptable to everyone, and that they fit in with their surroundings. It is also important that the churchyard is safe for the people who use it, and that, as a valuable habitat for wildlife, we do all we can to look after the animals and plants that live in it too.
The “Churchyard Regulations” give clear guidance about how graves are to be cared for. These rules apply whether or not you have put up a gravestone, so everyone needs to be aware of them. I have summarized the most important rules for maintaining a grave in Seal churchyard below.
These rules apply to everyone tending a grave in the churchyard. The PCC (church council) has the right to remove anything which contravenes them. You may see other graves where people don’t seem to be abiding by these rules – please don’t assume that this means that you can disregard them too. It may simply be that we have been unable to speak to the family who care for that grave yet. We all need to work together to keep Seal Churchyard looking beautiful and we appreciate your co-operation in this.
HOW MUCH DOES BURIAL COST?
The costs of a funeral service and burial will be explained to you by the funeral director, and he or she will normally arrange payment of fees to the church. Interment of ashes at a later time currently costs £133.
Permission to put up a memorial stone or to add an inscription to an existing stone ranges from £17 for a small wooden cross to £138 for a full size headstone for a grave. The fees usually go up a little each year – these are prices for 2007. You can find out more about Church fees here.
A PRAYER FOR TIMES OF SORROW
Loving Lord, help me to place (N.) into your hands, for you know and love him/her as your child. Be with me in the dark times of grief, and hold me till the morning comes. Amen