Erecting a headstone

erecting a headstone

Not sure how to go about getting an application for erecting a headstone approved? Here are tips from expert, Tom Reynolds at Memorials of Distinction.

1. Submit application

You must submit an application (with fee) to your local council or the church authority – whoever manages the burial ground. You must do this before you do anything at the grave site. You can do this yourself or use the services of the Memorial Mason who will create the headstone. They are registered with councils and can submit these forms on your behalf.

2. Meet the regulations

Most cemeteries and churchyards have regulations  that cover height and width of headstones for single and double graves. Any Memorial Mason will know the regulations and keep you right. They’ll know about the rules for erecting the stone with ground anchors, in line with current codes of practice, following legislation from the National Association of Memorial Masons.

3. Headstone inscription

Stick to the guidelines set out by the relevant council or church authority. You will be asked to put the exact wording and description on the application form for approval. Memorial Masons can advise you.

Cemeteries vs churchyards

Cemeteries: cemeteries are normally owned by Local Authorities ie your local council. There may be a place for the service within the grounds but this is not a church; it’s a space where people of all faiths and none may be buried.  When it comes to headstones, the regulations are less strict than in churchyards but you still need permission to have a memorial stone erected on a grave from the Council. Memorial Masons or stone writers tend to take care of the paperwork on your behalf and are also able to let you know what’s allowed under the regulations.

Churchyards: graveyards that are part of a church’s grounds mean headstones need to be in keeping with the general surroundings as well as the church building itself. On top of this church laws apply and these can differ from parish to parish throughout the country. All parish members are entitled to burial in a churchyard as long as there is space available – but in order to have a headstone erected over a grave still requires “privilege and permission” from the relevant church. There are usually more stringent rules when it comes to erecting a headstone in a churchyard. These are the few rules that tend to be the same throughout the country:

  • inscriptions have to be compatible with Christian religion
  • headstones must not be shiny or polished
  • kerb sets are not permitted
  • photo plaques are not allowed
  • one vase only for flowers is permitted

However, the church does encourage ‘artistic creativity’ and as such, people may apply for special permission to do something which is known as a “Faculty” – a Memorial Mason would be able to advise you on this.

See our Marketplace for Memorial Masons, stone carvers and memorial ideas.


2 thoughts on “Erecting a headstone

  1. I didn’t realize that some cemeteries have regulations regarding the types of headstones you can use. We are trying to choose the right headstone for my grandmother who recently passed. I will definitely find out what kind of restrictions are there.

  2. Thanks for pointing out that you’ll need to follow the guidelines that your church or council authority set for what you can put on. My dad passed away a few weeks ago, and we had a lovely burial. Now we need to figure out what to put on his memorial. Your tips will help me make sure we can actually say what we want to, and we’ll just need to find someone who’ll be able to etch it for us.

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