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 is £305.40 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 a resolution in favour of the reservation made by the Parochial Church Council (PCC), and anyone wishing to reserve a space in a particular churchyard should first discuss the proposed reservation with the vicar or one of the churchwardens to see whether space is available. In considering this, the PCC will want to consider the rate at which the churchyard is filling up, and how many spaces remain available; and 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.
When submitting an application to reserve a grave space to the Registry, the following will be required:
- The written consent of the Vicar and Churchwardens to the proposed reservation
- A resolution of the PCC confirming its approval of the proposal
- A plan showing the precise location and size of the plot to be reserved, identified by measurements from fixed points in the Churchyard and a plot number
- A cheque for the faculty fee of £305.40, payable to Birketts LLP.
- The petition form duly completed and signed by the applicant(s)
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 or Cremation Plot Reservation
- Guidance Notes – Faculty Petitions
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.
A fee is payable on lodging the Petition. The current Diocesan Registry fee is £305.40, and applies whether the application is for a normal grave space or for a plot for the interment of cremated remains. This fee is normally revised 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.
The Petition will be sent to the Chancellor of the Diocese, who will normally 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 Chancellor will normally direct the grant of a Faculty. A fee may be payable to the Parochial Church Council where a grave space or cremation plot are reserved to cover future maintenance of the reserved plot.
Where, for example, 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 may be payable in respect of each separate application.
Please discuss any potential application with the Incumbent or Churchwardens before submitting the Petition to the Registry.