St Michael’s – The Churchyard and the Burial Ground

ECN has received a letter from a parishioner, which both highlights a genuine problem that people may face at an already difficult time and provides a context to clear up some of the confusion that exists regarding the Churchyard and the Burial Ground in general.
Glenys Dauncey writes:

Attention is drawn to all Eastington village families in order to make you aware of the problems you are likely to face in the future.
Following the death of my Uncle in February this year permission was refused for his ashes to be interred in the Garden of Remembrance, where the remains of five members of his family have already been laid to rest, due to legality issues since closure of the churchyard in 1975. I understand that action is now being taken to resolve the situation but this is a very lengthy process.

This situation relates ONLY to the Garden of Remembrance (or ‘Memorial Ground’) within the churchyard.
The more modern burial ground, situated across the lane from the Church, including it’s Remembrance Garden, are owned and administered by the (secular) Eastington Parish Council, completely independently of the Church. These areas are not affected by this problem.

By way of further explanation, the Parochial Church Council writes:-

Eastington Parochial Church Council and the Churchwardens would like to express regret that confusion over the continued use of the Memorial Ground for the internment of ashes has caused some distress to members of our Parish. By way of explanation the situation is as follows:

The Churchyard including the area occupied by the Memorial Ground was closed on 6th August 1975 by virtue of the Burial Grounds (St Michael and All Angels Churchyard, Eastington, Gloucestershire) Order 1975.

The Churchyard remains within the ownership of the Church although the Parish Council have assumed responsibility for grass cutting and general maintenance.
Following recent requests for the internment of ashes in the Memorial Ground, the PCC sought to clarify whether such internments were covered by the Closing Order and the advice we have received from the Diocesan Registrar’s legal department is as follows:

“The Order in Council means that from the date of the Order, burials on the land hatched on the plan are prohibited. There is an exception that burials are permitted in a family grave where a family member is already buried, provided that no part of the coffin is less than 3 feet below the level of the surface of the ground adjoining the grave.

The Churchyard Regulations for the Diocese of Gloucester and the Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure 1992 (section 3) provides that cremated remains may be interred in a closed churchyard, however a Faculty must be obtained prior to any internment”.

Research of records does not reveal the existence of any Faculty previously applied for and we have asked for further advice, from the Diocese, on the next steps. Once we have received this advice we will issue a further statement.

The Faculty jurisdiction is the Church of England’s regulation of works to church buildings, their contents and churchyards. It ensures that churches are properly cared for, and that whatever is done to them is properly considered beforehand and carried out in the most appropriate way.

A Faculty is a licence to carry out work. Any work carried out in the absence of a Faculty is illegal.

Muriel Bullock and Mike Naylor, Churchwardens, St Michael and all Angels Church, Eastington 22nd May 2018