New policy on Gardens of Remembrance

The Diocesan Advisory Committee has considered the issue of new gardens of remembrance, and come to a view that, in principle, we would not recommend their creation.

A pastoral need is often cited, especially in areas where burial space is limited. Against this, experience suggests it is likely that pastoral problems, sometimes serious, arise when the incumbent tries to enforce even minimal rules. In recent years, relatives seem increasingly reluctant to abide by agreed conditions (bearing in mind they agree to the conditions at a difficult time). Containers, plastic flowers, windmills, chimes, and even solar lights are items that appear; the incumbent would usually be within their rights to remove them but for obvious reasons may be reluctant to do so. The Chancellor has in the past been asked for a faculty to remove items even though the incumbent already has the authority to do it. In traditional churchyards, where the rules generally aim to maintain a dignified appearance of the churchyard, the garden of remembrance is often a jarring visual contrast to the rest of the churchyard.

At a time when some rationalisation of our church plant is inevitable, the existence of a garden of remembrance may make it more difficult to find an alternative use for a church building. In one case some years ago, disposal of the church for alternative use entailed the exhumation of cremated remains and reburial elsewhere, and this was a very difficult pastoral situation. Conversely, growth may mean a church needs to be extended, and a garden of remembrance may well be a constraint to what may be possible.

Where there is an existing garden of remembrance, and a larger area is sought, such a case would be considered on its merits.

The Chancellor is not bound by the DAC’s view, or to follow its recommendations on faculty applications, but he is familiar with the pastoral problems that may arise.

Steve Parish, DAC Chair