Funerals and Burials

If you are reading this after someone very dear to you has died, then please accept our sincere condolences.  We would like to offer you whatever help and support we can at what is a very difficult and emotionally draining time.

Arrangements can also be made for a service and cremation at a local crematorium. Speak to the Rev Phyllis Bainbridge or Rosemary Tunstall, our Verger, for more information – see the Contacts page.

Please click on the tabs below to find out more.

A funeral is used to mark the end of a person’s life here on earth. Family and friends come together to express grief, give thanks for the life lived and commend the person into God’s keeping. These can be a small, quiet ceremony or a large occasion in a packed church.

Everyone is entitled to either a burial service (funeral) or to have their ashes buried in their local parish churchyard by their local parish priest regardless of whether they attended church or not.

Arrangements can also be made for a service and cremation at a local crematorium. Speak to te Rev Phyllis Bainbridge or  Rosemary Tunstall, our Verger, for more information – see the Contacts page

Churchyard Burials

After a number of years of uncertainty and after consultation with Tutbury Parish Council and the Diocesan Authorities, the Church Council of Tutbury Priory Church has managed to secure permission for further burial space within the Churchyard of Tutbury in the older parts of the churchyard where there are no known memorials. 

The present ‘new’ churchyard (at the entrance nearest to the Castle) has about another five years of burial space, but further space elsewhere should allow for approximately fifteen years of burials to continue in Tutbury.  Whilst in the present ‘new’ churchyard burial spaces can be reserved by a Faculty application it has been agreed that this will not be the case in other areas of the Churchyard. 

With this there is the reminder to anyone who has a grave space within the Tutbury Churchyard (as with any other Churchyard or Municipal Cemetery) that whilst authorised erected memorials and headstones remain in the ownership of the family and individual, the actual burial plot does not.

At the time of burial (or internment of ashes) you will have bought the right to bury or inter someone there but the land remains in the ownership of the Church of England, with the C of E and Lichfield Diocese Regulations  being upheld by the Incumbent and PCC.

For further information or clarification please contact Rev Phyllis Bainbridge or the Church Wardens Margaret Pyle and Jackie Benstead  – see Contacts

Most of the graves (including burials of ashes) are marked by memorials or headstones dedicated to the person who has died.

No such monument can be introduced into the churchyard before six months have elapsed and without first completing a ‘Memorial Application form’ which will need to be given to the stonemason and then sent to the Vicar for authorisation. 

Please ensure that you obtain permission before the stonemason starts work!

St. Mary’s Priory Church Tutbury welcomes with love those who have been bereaved.  It seeks to ensure that its churchyards will be fitting resting places for the mortal remains of their departed loved ones both now and in the future.

Decisions about what may be placed in a churchyard cannot be a matter of private choice.

Written permission from the Parish Priest or the Diocesan Chancellor is needed before any memorial can be placed in a churchyard.

The Chancellor’s churchyard regulations explain what can and what cannot be authorised by a Parish Priest.

You are strongly advised to seek advice from the Parish Priest of St. Mary’s at an early stage and before making arrangements with a memorial mason.

Before completing the application form you are strongly recommended to read “Guidance to the Bereaved: Burials & Memorials in Churchyards” and the “Chancellor’s Churchyard Regulations” (available from the Parish Priest or the Lichfield diocesan website

Notes on the Churchyard Regulations

The full Churchyard Regulations can and should be read here

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.

There is nothing special or unique about the rules in Tutbury Churchyard, similar rules apply throughout the country in Church of England Churchyards and Municipal Cemeteries.

These rules are those of the Diocese of Lichfield and apply to all  Churches in the Diocese; they are also very similar to the rules that will be found at all Municipal Cemeteries.


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.

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 Municipal 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 the past, 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.ther information, please contact Rev Phyllis Bainbridge, Churchwardens or the Verger (see Contacts)