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.
Please click on the links below to find out more.

Arrangements can also be made for a service and cremation at a local crematorium. Speak to Rosemary Tunstall, our Verger, for more information.

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 Rosemary Tunstall, our Verger, for more information.

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 has up to 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 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 that whilst authorised erected memorials remain the ownership of the family and individual, the actual burial plot does not, the land remains in the ownership of the Church of England, with their (or Lichfield Diocese) regulations  being upheld by the incumbent and PCC.

For further information or clarification please contact the Vicar, Rev Ian Whitehead or Margaret Pyle and Jackie Benstead the Churchwardens of Tutbury Priory Church – see Contacts

Most of the graves (including burials of ashes) are marked by Memorial Stones dedicated to the person who has died.

No such Monument can be introduced to the churchyard without first completing a ‘Memorial Application form’ which will need to be given to the stonemason and then sent to the Vicar for authorisation.

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

Churchyard Regulations

The text below is a copy of the Churchyard Regulations for Tutbury St. Mary’s Priory Church as posted just inside the gate at the Castle entrance.

They are taken from the Lichfield Diocesan Regulations that apply to all churches.  They are also very similar to the rules applied in Council cemeteries.  

There is nothing special or unique about the rules in Tutbury churchyard, in general similar  rules apply throughout the country.


Regulations set out what is and what is not permitted in the churchyards by the Lichfield Diocese. ln particular they set out those memorials and related items which can and those which cannot be permitted by the incumbent and PCC.

The Nature of Churchyards.

First and foremost, churchyards are consecrated to God. Accordingly, they must be treated and cared for in a manner consistent with that consecrated status. They provide appropriate settings for Christian places of worship and as such send out a message of the Church’s commitment to worshipping God in the beauty of holiness.

Accordingly, the memorials placed in our churchyards must be fitting and appropriate and they must be fitting and appropriate not just for today but also for the future.

The Purpose of these Regulations.

The purpose of the Regulations is to preserve and enhance the quality of our churchyards while minimising the scope for conflict and discord when decisions have to be made as to the form of memorials. The Regulations exist to create fairness, equality and consistency of treatment for all. They seek to promote peace, dignify and good order in churchyards where it is necessary to balance the concerns of the past, present and future and where there will, inevitably, be a spectrum of views about what is appropriate.

The Regulations set out those matters which may and which may not be authorised by a parish incumbent.

Burial in a Churchyard.

Many people have a right to be buried in a churchyard and the Church welcomes those who wish to exercise that right. However, even when there is a legal right to burial in churchyard there is no right to a memorial nor to have any particular inscription on a memorial. Those are matters which need separate permission.

The maintenance of memorials is the responsibility of those who erect them and after those persons have died of the heirs of the person commemorated. However, the churchyard as a whole also has to be maintained. The ground remains with the church and not the individual family.

It is important that those making decisions about memorials do so after proper reflection and not when they are most acutely feeling their loss. For that reason, no application for a memorial may be made within six months of an interment.

Churchyard Past and Present

The incumbent and PCC may not permit memorials which includes kerbs, railings, or chippings.

The incumbent and PCC may not permit any permanent memorial or element of a memorial which involves stone, concrete, metal, glass, plaster, or plastic objects whether in the form of model people, animals, or toys or otherwise. Were similar or other portable items have been left on a grave such items may be left in position for the period of one calendar month after interment. lf the items are not then removed by those who placed them on the grave they will be removed by the churchwardens or a person authorised by them. The incumbent and PCC may not permit any object designed to make a noise when moved by the wind. These will be removed by the churchwardens or a person authorised by them.

Stone crosses of similar dimensions to headstones and hardwood crosses may be permitted. Wooden grave markers are to be removed once a suitable headstone or permanent marker has been erected.

Memorials are not to be considered in isolation but in their context as part of the churchyard as whole. Memorials of a different material from the church or from the other memorials in a churchyard can harm the appearance of the churchyard and mar the setting of the church.

Flowers and other ltems

Artificial flowers are not permitted and should be removed from any memorials on which they are laid. By way of exception to this prohibition the placing of wreaths and poppies is permissible in the periods of and leading up to Remembrance Day, Christmas and Easter and on the anniversaries of death or marriage. Such items are to be removed not more than one month after those occasions. lf the items are not removed by those who placed them on the memorials within that period they should be removed by the churchwardens or a person authorised by them.

For further information, please contact The lncumbent, Churchwardens or Verger (Contacts)


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.