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 Petiton Form. A faculty fee of £249.60 is payable with the application.
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 5 years’ worth of burials, any reservation is likely to be limited to just 5 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 judgment 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 £249.60, payable to Birketts LLP.
- The petition form duly completed and signed by the applicant(s)
Where a churchyard has only limited space remaining for new burials, the PCC may want to explore the possibilities of:
- re-using old parts of the churchyard where there have been no burials for over 100 years, particularly where there are no memorials or other grave markers; or
- acquiring additional land to form a churchyard extension. Often local landowners will be prepared to make available a suitable area of land, sometimes as a gift to the church, to enable burials to continue in the parish. Where this is a possibility, the PCC should seek advice from the registrar about the steps to be taken.