Churchyard Guidance

St John’s churchyard has been a place of Christian burial for more than 180 years a very special and peaceful place, and this is reflected in the way we manage the churchyard. We are merely the current custodians of this historic place and these notes are intended to help guide those who use our churchyard.

Churchyard maintenance is the responsibility of the Parochial Church Council. Maintenance is carried out to an agreed plan and we work hard to ensure the churchyard is a pleasant and safe place, reflecting the diversity and beauty of God’s creation. Churchyard regulations are now established for every Diocese and a summary of these can be found in the ‘Guidance for Headstones and Memorials’ in the ‘Funerals’ section of our website. In particular you will note that the Diocese regulations limit the type of stone that may be used as a memorial. This is to ensure that only natural and durable memorial stones are placed in the churchyard. We endeavour to work sensitively with those wish to tend any grave.

The church Verger has a particular responsibility for the churchyard and is happy to discuss any aspect of its maintenance and that of the graves within.

St John’s is not a Municipal Cemetery, it is a traditional English Churchyard and we are committed to handing it on to future generations with the same appearance and character that we have inherited from the past.

All plots in the churchyard remain in the ownership of the church and therefore it is our responsibility to ensure they are suitably maintained throughout the year. Long grass is not a sign of neglect and some areas are left unmown for part of the year as a haven for wildflowers which increases the attraction of the churchyard to insects as well as birds. We have a variety of wildflowers in the churchyard, some uncommon, and would ask that you do not strim or mow areas around any grave, this will be carried out by our churchyard maintenance team. If you are concerned about a grave PLEASE speak to us about your concerns and we will make every effort to assist you.

Burials in the Churchyard

We are happy to give advice on all aspects relating to a new burial in the churchyard. New graves will be laid to grass as soon as is practicable and we encourage the placement of natural flowers and wreaths on new graves. We will ensure that these are tidied up as necessary.

If you wish to tend a grave in the churchyard please:

DO

  • Plant bulbs on a grave if you wish. These naturalise well in grass, will enhance the churchyard and be pleasing and easy to maintain as a natural memorial to the deceased.
  • Place cut flowers or small plants in a sunken container on the plot. Please do not use glass containers as these are easily broken and become hazardous
  • Place natural flower wreaths on a grave.
  • Speak to us BEFORE you make any arrangements for a headstone or memorial. We can discuss your wishes, advise you on what is permissible and help you make any arrangements. Please note there is a fee payable for the placement of any memorial.

DO NOT

  • Plant trees or shrubs on a grave
  • Place artificial flowers or non-organic items (toys, pictures wind chimes or solar lights) on a grave. These soon fade and appear neglected and may be abused by foxes. Remembrance Day poppies are the only exception to this.
  • Put glass vases or containers on a grave. These are easily broken and can become dangerous.
  • Place stone chippings, stones or weed supressing membranes over or around a grave.
  • Place kerbs or small fences around the grave, or enlarge the size of the plot.
  • Use chemicals or slug pellets
  • Arrange unauthorised renovation or alteration of headstones.

NOTE: The churchyard maintenance team will tidy and clear away flowers and wreaths as they become withered to ensure that the churchyard always looks well cared for.

Interment of cremated remains

These can often be placed in an existing grave but we do have a Memorial Garden especially available for this. Please speak to us about this as the Diocese has regulations in place about appropriate marker stones. Fresh flowers are beautiful and welcome, but plastic flowers and ornaments appear out of place as they fade. Please avoid plastic containers and glass jars which may blow over or break.

Scattering of ashes around the churchyard or externally on an existing grave is not permitted.

Finally

A note about safety in the churchyard.

You may on occasions, see gravestones or memorials laid down flat. This will happen where a stone has become unstable and may be awaiting repair. We make every effort to trace and notify the family of the deceased in these circumstances. The ground in some areas is very uneven, please take care. We cannot be held responsible for damage to memorials whether accidental or deliberate, caused by third parties.

If you have any queries or concerns about this information please speak to us and we will be happy to help.

Vicar: The Rev’d Lu Gale   tel. 020 8654 1913

Verger: Bernard Maguire   tel. 020 8654 4626

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