There is no legal right to place a memorial in a churchyard. Permission must be obtained from the Chancellor of the Diocese, acting on behalf of the Bishop. The normal method of applying for permission would be to apply for a Faculty (see Faculty Jurisdiction). However, this is rarely necessary, because the Chancellor has given authority to the parish priest, through the Diocesan Churchyard Regulations, to allow memorials which fall within the guidelines set out in the Regulations. Memorials that are outside the Churchyard Regulations need to be approved by the Chancellor. In many cases, this can be applied for by way of an Application for Dispensation, for which there is no fee. The Application for Dispensation is available here. In some cases a Faculty will be required, and the statutory faculty petition fee would be payable. Examples of such cases include the replacement of a memorial, the moving of a memorial, and memorials that fall widely outside what is permitted by the Churchyard Regulations. Please contact the Registry for further guidance.
Those wishing to place a memorial in a churchyard are advised to consult the Minister responsible for the churchyard before visiting the stonemason and choosing a memorial, so that the Minister can advise as to which types of memorial are appropriate to a particular churchyard, and which can be authorised by the Minister. The Minister can also advise on inscriptions. Further information on the process, and the Churchyard Memorial Application form, is available here: Application Form. Further guidance is available from the DAC team.
If, even after discussing a proposed memorial, the applicant wishes to erect a memorial not permitted by the Regulations, an Application for Dispensation or a Petition for a Faculty (see Faculty Jurisdiction) will have to be lodged in the usual way.
Testing of Churchyard Memorials
Ministry of Justice guidance, which may assist PCCs wishing to topple test and repair memorials in their churchyards, is available to view or download: ‘Managing the safety of Burial Ground Memorials: Practical advice for dealing with unstable memorials”. Any testing of memorials in churchyards needs to be approved by Faculty before it is undertaken, and must follow the Diocesan Topple Testing Guidelines.
Memorials inside Churches
As a general rule, the erection of memorials inside churches is not normally permitted. Anyone wishing to erect a memorial inside a church must apply for a Faculty, and must satisfy the Chancellor that a departure from the normal rule is justifiable, for example, because the person to be commemorated was a major benefactor of the church, or made some major contribution to the church or parish, or was an important local or national figure, etc.
The DAC offers guidance on Memorial Plaques in Churches.