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Burial and Cremation Guidance

A Guide for those arranging a burial or interment  of ashes in Tanworth in Arden Churchyard


Explaining the Churchyard Regulations set by the Diocese of Birmingham that came into effect from September 2006


The Church of St Mary Magdalene welcomes you at what can be a difficult and distressing time.  We hope we can be a comfort to you.  If you need a place to reflect the church is open every day and space is available at a table near the main altar to sit in privacy, reflect, pray and perhaps light a candle.   As you consider how best to remember and honour the person you are mourning, this booklet is intended to answer some of the questions you may have about burials and the interment of ashes in our Churchyard.  The first step is to contact a firm of funeral directors, sometimes called undertakers.  They should be able to explain the processes to you. If you have any questions or queries please ask the Vicar, the Reverend Paul Cudby,  by telephoning or leaving a message on 01564 742565.


Who can be buried or have their ashes interred in Tanworth Churchyard?
Permission for a burial in the churchyard should be sought from the Vicar.  Anyone who lives or dies in Tanworth or Earlswood within the boundary of the Parish of St Mary Magdalene, whatever their religious beliefs, or who is on the electoral roll of St Mary Magdalene Tanworth in Arden,  may be buried in the churchyard or have their ashes laid after cremation. Permission may be granted for burial of persons who do not live or die in the Parish, or interment of their ashes, following a specific application to the Vicar of the Parochial Church Council.


There is not a right to burial or interment of ashes in any particular part of the churchyard.  A burial, interment of ashes or erection of a monument or memorial stone do not give any right of ownership to that part of the churchyard.


What will be the fees?
There are statutory fees associated with funeral or cremation services, burials or interment of ashes, and authorisation for  memorials.  These are displayed on the notice-board in the church porch and can also be found online at www.cofebirmingham.com 
There are optional fees for additional requirements, e.g. organist, bell ringers, laying of memorial plaques, performing searches on register records. Please discuss your needs with the Vicar.


FOLLOWING A CREMATION


After a cremation, how do we arrange the interment  of ashes in Tanworth churchyard?

When arranging a cremation, tell the Funeral Director that you wish the ashes to be interred in Tanworth Churchyard. They will then ensure that they are in a suitable wooden container which must include a metal name plate on the top.   If you wish, they can look after them for you until a time for laying the ashes has been arranged.  The application should be made through the stonemasons on the appropriate Diocese form.


(The scattering of ashes in the churchyard is not permitted but if you would like to scatter them elsewhere please feel free to speak to the Vicar if you would like advice or assistance.)


When can we install a memorial stone after the interment of ashes?

You can arrange for a memorial stone to be laid three months after the interment of ashes, thus giving time for the ground to settle.  Before approaching a stonemason you must contact the Vicar to discuss the type of memorial stone and any wording you wish to have on the memorial stone.  The application should be made through the stonemasons on the appropriate Diocese form.


What type of memorial stone is allowed?

The current Diocese regulations do not allow black marble or black granite. 

Only black or white lettering is permitted.  Colouring, gilding or silvering of the inscription is not allowed.  Inscriptions should be in words and figures only and cut into the stone.  It must include the full name of the person or persons with dates  of birth and death.  The Vicar may permit additional words if they are brief and appropriate and in accordance with Diocese rules.  Formal wording is preferred and the Vicar will be happy to help you with this.


The memorial stone must be a flat rectangular stone that lies flush with the ground and should be no larger than 45 cm x 30cm.


If you plan to bring flowers then you should order a stone which incorporates a flower container  recessed into the stone.  Please note that artificial flowers are not allowed, except for Remembrance Day poppies.  There should be no planting around the memorial stone.  Pictures and photographs are not allowed, and nor are toys, balloons or any type of lighting.


FOLLOWING A BURIAL

When can we erect a monument following a burial?
You can arrange for a monument to be erected six months after the burial, thus giving time for the ground to settle.  Before approaching a stonemason you must contact the Vicar to discuss the type of monument you would like to be erected and any wording you wish to have on the monument.    This also applies to vases and small wooden crosses  The application should be made through the stonemasons on the appropriate Diocese form.


What type of monument can we erect?
There are  Diocese regulations concerning what monuments you can have in Church of England churchyards.  They are designed to maintain the character and appearance of the churchyard and to allow easy maintenance of it, particularly so that graves continue to look their best in the years to come.     As the maintenance of the monument after it is erected is the responsibility of the relatives or personal representatives, the regulations try to ensure that monuments will last for a long time, not be expensive to maintain and will not be easily susceptible to vandalism.


What can the monument be made of?
The headstone, cross or slab can be made of unpolished natural stone that is sympathetic to the fabric of the church and that part of the churchyard where it is to be sited.  Alternatively it can be made of English Oak.  The current Diocese regulations do not allow black marble or black granite or monuments made of more than one type of stone


What size and shape can the monument be?
Monuments allowed after a burial can be an upright headstone, cross or book or a flat stone that lies flush with the ground.  The top edge should be flat, rather than unfinished or “rugged”.  They should be no larger than 1.25m. x 0.65m x 0.11m. and no smaller than 0.60m x 0.50m x 0.08m.  The Regulations do not allow monuments in the shape of hearts or urns  or statues.


What can be written on the monument?
The inscription should be in words and figures only and cut into the stone; it must include the full name of the person or persons buried with dates  of birth and death.  The Vicar may permit additional words if they are brief and appropriate and in accordance with Diocese rules. An appropriate quote from the Bible or a line from a favourite hymn is suggested, and the Vicar will be happy to help you with this.  Formal wording is preferred.   Only black or white lettering is permitted. Colouring, gilding or silvering of the inscription is not allowed.  Pictures or photographs are not allowed, nor are ornaments,  toys or balloons or any kind of lighting.


Looking after the Grave and flowers
When the ground has settled (usually after a year) the grave should be levelled and grassed over. 


The grave must be kept flat – no grave mounds are allowed.  There is usually no objection to the planting of bulbs or small plants on the graves.  Shrubs,  trees and artificial flowers are not allowed (except for Remembrance Day poppies.)


LOOKING AFTER THE CHURCHYARD

Please  help us keep the churchyard in beauty and peace

The churchyard is maintained by a group of volunteers who do their best, with limited funds, to keep it as a tranquil place where the bereaved can remember and find peace.  Much of the churchyard is mown but parts are left unmown so that wild flowers can flourish.  To make the maintenance task as easy as possible, in particular the mowing, kerbs railings  and chippings are not allowed.

It is most helpful if you can clear  away any cut flowers or plants when they die, though we understand, of course, if sometimes you are unable to return.   


What records are kept?
The church keeps a very careful record of all people and any ashes buried in the churchyard.  If you are interested in viewing the registers please contact the Vicar.  A fee is charged for this service.


Any Further Questions?
If you have any questions at all about any of this information, or concerns about any other matters please do contact the Vicar, the Reverend Paul Cudby,  on 01564 742565.
Would you  like to make an annual donation to church funds?


If you would like to make a donation, by cheque or standing order, please contact our Church Treasurer, Philip Littleford,  on 01564 703188.


The full Diocese Regulations for churchyards can be found online at  www.cofebirmingham.com