Churchyard Rules & R​egulations

The information on this page applies to the Church Burial Grounds at, St Botolph’s, Eastwick, St James, High Wych and St Mary’s Gilston.

The churchyards are covered by the laws and regulations which are detailed in the churchyard regulations in St Albans Diocese. HERE 

This brief guide is intended to provide an overview of the current position, but it is recommended that you read the full regulations.

A copy of the diocese Churchyard Handbook, - Guide For Families is available in the church or HERE

St. James

St. Botolph

St. Mary The Virgin

A summary of the rules 

Maintenance of Graves

The church is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the Burial Ground. New graves and re-opened graves will suffer from settlement for some time after an interment. If necessary, the gravediggers will, from time to time, ‘top up’ these graves with fresh topsoil until they become level with the surrounding ground. This settlement is a natural process due to the nature of the soil.

Memorial Stones

Please contact a reputable monumental mason, who will be aware of the St Albans Diocesan guidelines for churchyards. They will advise you on suitable inscriptions and the fees payable. They will also assist you in applying for permission to erect the memorial from the Vicar or, in rare cases, from the Chancellor of the Diocese. 

A minimum of six months should elapse between the burial and erection of the headstone. This gives time for the ground to settle and reduces the likelihood of the headstone leaning in the future.

Once the stone is in place, it becomes your responsibility to maintain the stone. If the stone starts to lean, please contact the stonemason and ask for it to be corrected. In no circumstances should anyone other than a qualified stonemason carry out this work as the stones are very heavy.

 Permission should always be sought from the parish priest if a memorial stone needs to be taken away for repair or additional inscription, so that there is no cause for concern that the stone or the grave might have been tampered with.                                         

St James Memorial Garden

No items should be left on the grass. Flowers may be placed in the stone vases and planted containers may be placed at the foot of the memorial wall

Headstones may incorporate a flower holder within the base, in line with current Churchyard Rules and the stonemason will be able to advise on this. Kerbstones and chippings are not allowed 

Commemorating the Dead 

It is understood that in the days immediately following a burial, the family and friends mourning the loss of a loved one may wish to place items on a grave to commemorate their loved one and as tokens of their love. Please ask permission from the Parish Priest. At his or her discretion, such items may be left in place for a reasonable period not normally exceeding 6 months

However, the Parish Priest will ask the family to remove items which may be inappropriate, cause distress to other churchyard visitors, or be stolen, or which could be a danger (e.g. glass jars). Those items which are not in accordance with the Christian faith may only be placed with the express permission of the Parish Priest.

After six months (or sooner if maintenance of the churchyard is planned) the family will be notified if possible, and the decorations will be carefully and respectfully removed and safely stored ready for collection by the family

Flowers & Bulbs 

The Parochial Church Council has the responsibility for maintaining the churchyard. The planting of small annual flowering plants and bulbs is welcomed.

The planting of perennial plants on graves makes mowing the area difficult and shrubs, like roses and trees are not permitted as their roots may disturb the grave and can eventually damage the memorial stone or an adjacent grave.

Where a flower vase is included in the base of the headstone fresh flowers or stems cut from shrubs or bushes including holly may be placed in the vase.    

No plastic or artificial flowers of any kind are allowed. This is because they are not in keeping with the changing seasons of nature which apply in the churchyard. 

There are three limited exceptions:

1. Poppies at Remembrance Sunday; they serve a special purpose for a limited period at a time of National Remembrance
2.​ Wreaths at Christmas
3. ·Wreaths at the anniversary of the death of the deceased, for a limited period.

Pictures & Statues

No pictures, photographs, portraits or statuaries (artefacts such as toys or statues) are allowed.

Useful contact details:
St Albans Diocese can be contacted at:  
Hollywell Lodge
41 Hollywell Hill
St Albans, Herts, AL1 1HE
Tel: 01727 854532

Some useful website addresses:                
Diocese of St Albans:    
Diocesan advisory Committee