Burials and cremations

Information for grave owners

When you purchase a grave space you become the owner of the exclusive rights of burial for the grave on a leasehold basis. This means you are granted the right to say who can be buried in the grave and your permission must be obtained to allow memorials to be installed on the grave. You are not the owner of the land.

Cemetery rules and regulations

So that our cemeteries and crematorium are safe, dignified and respectful places we have cemetery and crematorium rules. If you are a grave owner please read the rules. They include information about your responsibilities as well as describing what size of memorial is allowed.

Please note, during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, please maintain social distancing when visiting the cemetery grounds.

Memorials

Only registered memorial masons are allowed to carry out work in our cemeteries. Registered memorial masons are required to ensure that all memorial work they undertake complies with our memorial masons’ registration scheme and cemetery rules. Our registration scheme helps ensure safe working practices are followed and one requirement is that the mason is registered with either of two national associations – NAMM (the National Association of Memorial Masons) or BRAMM (British Register of Accredited Memorial Masons).

Please contact the cemeteries and crematorium team if you have a query about any of the memorial masons listed below.

Memorial safety

Owners of the exclusive burial rights for graves (usually referred to as ‘grave owners’) are responsible for the safety of any memorials on the grave. In addition, as a burial authority, we have general powers that allow action to be taken to address danger arising from the condition of a memorial. Any action taken by us will be proportionate and sensitive, taking into account visitor safety and the needs of the bereaved.

Memorial safety inspections

We responsible for the management of five cemeteries and is responsible for keeping 12 closed churchyards in decent order. Part of this responsibility is to protect cemetery visitors and staff working in cemeteries (including contractors). We have a rolling programme of memorial inspection to help make sure no memorial poses a risk of falling and injuring somebody in a cemetery.

Where are inspections taking place?

Memorial safety inspections are currently taking place in Overleigh, Blacon, Overpool and Neston cemetery as well as St Oswalds Church in Malpas between September and November and repairs are currently being undertaken in Overleigh, Blacon, Overpool and Neston cemetery.

Further inspections are due to take place in Overpool, Neston and Blacon cemeteries as well as St Mary & St Helens Church in Neston between December and February.

We will put up notices at each cemetery around a month before the checks are due to start.

How will a memorial be inspected?

A specially trained member of staff will start by doing a visual inspection of the memorial. Where appropriate this will be followed with a hand test. This involves the member of staff using their hand to apply pressure to the memorial to check for movement. In most cases, there will be no movement and a record will be kept that the memorial has passed the test. If the memorial moves it will fail the test.

What happens if a memorial fails the inspection?

Where a memorial fails the inspection, the owner will be informed so that they can arrange repairs. Sometimes owners do not update their contact details so we will also place a notice near the memorial / attach a yellow safety-warning label to the memorial asking the owner to contact the us.

If a memorial is assessed to be an immediate danger, action will be taken straight away. This action includes erecting barrier tape and placing signage. We will avoid laying memorials down flat wherever possible.

If repair work is not arranged by the owner, we will arrange to make the memorial safe instead. The costs will then be recovered from the owner.

What should I do if my memorial fails the test?

As the owner of a memorial, you have a duty to ensure it is safe. If your memorial is found to be unsafe you should arrange for it to be repaired and made safe by a registered memorial mason from the list above. Alternatively, you can contact Clare Barlow on 01244 977376 and arrange for the memorial to be repaired by the our contractor (there is a charge for this service). Please do not try to move or make repairs to the memorial yourself.

Will more inspections take place in the future?

Yes, we will continue to carry out regular checks.

How you can help

If you own a memorial, please make sure we have your up-to-date contact details by emailing crematorium@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk