We should like to apologise for any distress caused by recent events in the churchyard. Two events happened to which we needed to respond quickly, giving us no time to communicate with those affected as we would have preferred.
The Diocese of Salisbury, which is responsible for the rules for churchyards, has issued new rules, particularly with regard to what may be placed on graves. The rules are very specific, allowing only vases or pots which are part of any memorial stone, with anything else not permitted. In the past, vases, pots and ornaments have been tolerated within the churchyard, recognising the comfort that their placement can offer the bereaved.
At almost the same time and at the worst possible moment in the grass growing season, our contractor announced they would no longer be able to mow the churchyard. They have suffered bad damage to two machines because of hitting objects which should not have been there in the first place.
We were left with two options:-
- Remove objects from graves which were not permitted, so that we could organise alternative contractors, to safely resume grass cutting as soon as possible.
- Attempt to communicate with everyone with graves via the magazine and noticeboards, inviting removal of the offending objects before resorting to their removal by Churchwardens as above, after a reasonable period and before starting new contractors.
The situation was outlined in the June magazine with the churchyard clean-up introduced as Churchwarden Mike Dunning’s first working party of the year.
Because of the rate of growth of the grass, the Rector and Churchwardens agreed that the first option was most likely to result in a quicker return of the churchyard to its normal state. We did not consider that a further month of would be the right thing to do.
Of course we are very sorry for the resulting distress caused to relatives. We are grateful to all those of you who maintain graves regularly, and thank you for all your hard work in helping keep the churchyard in good condition. We hope you will understand that we faced a difficult decision, and that we regret the upset caused.