Churchyard Rules

Churchyard Rules Notes

St. Mary’s Priory Church Tutbury has, like all other churches, a set of rules about what is and is not allowed in the churchyard on and around graves and cremation internments.

These rules are those of the Diocese of Lichfield and apply to all 573 Church of England Churches in the Diocese.  It is thought that they are the same rules that apply countrywide in all the other Diocese.  They are also very similar to the rules that will be found at all Council run cemeteries – there is nothing unique or special about the rules that apply to St. Mary’s Priory Church, Tutbury – in general similar rules apply to all burial grounds.

A key point from the Lichfield Diocesan rules is the following:

The restrictions imposed by these Regulations are not a matter of the personal choice of Parish clergy and churchwardens and they cannot depart from them. The welcome given to those seeking to arrange a burial in a churchyard should make it clear that a churchyard is not a private place. It is a place where many people have a shared interest in its appearance. Accordingly, the decision as to what is placed in a churchyard cannot be simply a matter of private choice.

The rules posted in the churchyard, just inside the Castle gate, can be read here.  The full Diocesan rules be read here

Plots and ownership

There has been comment that people have ‘bought’ their plots and can therefore do as they wish with them.  This is not actually the case.

When you ‘buy a plot’, you are buying the right for someone to be buried or interred there – this applies to all Church and Council cemeteries – and this can sometimes be time-limited to 25 or 50 years.  This is well expressed on the website of AW Lymn, Funeral Directors:

The traditional place of burial for those living within a parish is the churchyard. A parishioner is defined as one who normally resides in the ecclesiastical parish in question. Additionally, a person on the church electoral roll at the time of death and a person happening to die in the parish also have a right of burial in the churchyard.

The person paying fees for a churchyard burial does not obtain ownership of the grave, nor even, in strict law, the exclusive right of burial therein. All land in a churchyard remains the property of the church authorities unless granted to an individual by a faculty at the discretion of the chancellor of the Diocese concerned. There are therefore no grave-deeds.

Therefore, the rules for what is and is not permissible in the cemetery or churchyard are set by the Council or the Church – and they are all broadly similar wherever you are buried – there is nothing unique about the rules for St. Mary’s Churchyard.

Upkeep of the Churchyard

The Closed Churchyard comprises the two sections on the village (or south) side of the church (E, F, G1, G2 on the map); they are maintained by the Parish Council although the area is still under the control of the church – this is the only part of the churchyard that has Council Tax money spent on it.  

The rest of the churchyard is the responsibility of the church and is maintained entirely by volunteers.

Some people have commented on the state of the churchyard in previous years, but most years the Sudbury volunteers keep a good level of access to all areas except a couple of graves on the Terrace (one a War Grave that will be attended to by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission volunteers) and a few in the north end ‘drop’.

If you are aware of an area of the churchyard that you cannot access, then please contact the the Verger or a Church Warden (see Contacts page).

We always need more volunteers to help maintain the churchyard – if you think there is a problem, then please volunteer to help us fix it.