Grave space reservation
It is possible to apply to reserve a grave space in a Churchyard. Reservations are normally for a single or double plot. A “Faculty” is required for a reservation, and application for this would be made on a Faculty Petition Form, available from the Diocesan Registry. The Registry will also provide some explanatory notes to accompany the Petition Form. A faculty fee is payable with the application. The current fee for 2022 is £311.20 and is reviewed annually in line with the Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and Others (Fees) Order issued by the government in January each year.
Unless there are exceptional circumstances, a reservation will not normally be granted to anyone who is under 50 years of age, and the reservation will normally last for a maximum of 30 years. This is to avoid blocking spaces in churchyards for unduly long periods of time. However, where there is space in the churchyard for less than 30 years’ worth of anticipated burials, any faculty for a grave space reservation is likely to be limited to a shorter period, to match the expected capacity of the churchyard. So if there is only room for five years’ worth of burials, any reservation is likely to be limited to just five years, unless there are exceptional circumstances justifying a departure from this policy.
Where limited space in the churchyard means that a reservation is granted for a period of less than 30 years, it is possible for applicants to offer reasons to explain why their particular circumstances might justify a grant of a reservation for the full 30 years. However, where this means that a considered judgement is needed, an additional fee may be incurred.
An application for a space to be reserved will need to be supported by the Incumbent, Churchwarden(s) and a Resolution in favour of the reservation made by the Parochial Church Council (PCC). Anyone wishing to reserve a space in a churchyard should first discuss the proposed reservation with the Incumbent and/or one of the Churchwardens to see whether space is available and if they would agree to a reservation being made. The PCC will want to consider the rate at which the churchyard is filling up, and how many spaces remain available; and therefore whether it is appropriate to set aside a space or spaces for the proposed application. The PCC is under no obligation to support a proposed reservation, and may wish to be cautious about support for reservations when space is very limited. Generally the Chancellor is not keen to grant a reservation where there is less than 10 years of available space in the churchyard.
When submitting an application to reserve a grave space to the Registry, the following will be required:
- Payment of the faculty application fee of £311.20 (payable to Birketts LLP)
- The Petition form fully completed and signed by the applicant(s)
The following is also required, but can follow at a later date:
- The written consent of the Incumbent and Churchwarden(s) to the proposed reservation
- A signed Resolution of the PCC confirming its approval of the proposal
- A plan showing the precise location (preferably with a plot/row number) and size of the plot to be reserved (usually 6x3ft for a grave space, or 1x1ft for a cremation plot), and whose memorials the plot is next to.
Petition form and guidance notes
There is a special Petition form to apply to reserve a grave space, available below or from the Diocesan Registrar’s office:
- Petition – Grave Space or Cremation Plot Reservation
- Guidance notes – Grave space, Cremation plot applications (updated 04.01.2022)
- Guiidance Notes – Faculty Petitions (updated 04.01.2022)
The grave to be reserved should be referred to by row and number on a churchyard plan. If there is no churchyard plan kept at the church, a sketch plan should be attached to the application showing the position of the grave to be reserved, with sufficient measurements from fixed points to enable the grave to be accurately identified. The completed form should then be sent to the Registrar. Details need to be provided of any memorials that the plot is next to as this information needs to be included on the Public Notice.
A fee is payable on lodging the Petition. The current faculty application fee for 2022 is £311.20, and applies whether the application is for a normal grave space or for a plot for the interment of cremated remains. This fee is revised by The Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and Others (Fees) Order on 1 January each year. The appropriate fee is the fee applicable at the time when the Petition is lodged in the Registry, not when the Faculty is granted.
On submission of the Petition the Registrar for the Diocese will direct that Public Notices are published at the church, to give notice of the application to parishioners and an opportunity for objections. The notices have to be displayed for 28 days. If no notices of objection are received by the Registrar, the application will be submitted to the Chancellor will normally direct the grant of a Faculty.
An additional fee may be payable to the Parochial Church Council where a grave space or cremation plot is reserved to contribute toward future maintenance of the reserved plot.
Where, for example, close family members such as a husband and wife desire to be buried together, they may either
(a) make one application for the right for both to be buried in the same grave, in which case only one set of fees is payable, or
(b) make separate applications for the reservation of two adjoining grave spaces, in which case the above fees would be payable in respect of each separate application.
Please ensure you discuss any potential application with the Incumbent or Churchwardens before submitting the Petition to the Registry.