OUR CHURCHYARDS AND CEMETERIES
We are blessed to have four beautiful spaces in our Benefice – St Mary’s Churchyard and St Mary’s Burial Ground in Kelvedon, and All Saints’ Churchyard and St Martin’s Cemetery (a.k.a. Feering Cemetery) in Feering. All are generally very well-kept and are peaceful places for walking, rest and contemplation. They are open to all, and we really hope that you enjoy visiting them.
All four areas are looked after by small groups of volunteers, so if at times some areas seem overgrown or in need of tidying, especially at the main growing times of the year, we do ask you to be patient. They will get done eventually!
Kelvedon Burial Ground and Feering Cemetery, of course, are also very important as they are the burial places for many local people. We know how significant are the resting-places of relatives and loved ones of local people. It’s very clear that many families, relatives and friends visit graves very regularly.
Recently we have put up sets of the ‘Churchyard Rules’ in both areas, which outline the kinds of headstones and memorials that are allowed, and also how graves and ashes plots may be kept. We must stress that these are the rules and regulations of the whole Diocese of Chelmsford – in other words, they are general to all Church of England churchyards and cemeteries, and not just specific to Feering or Kelvedon.
Essentially the rules state that graves should be laid to grass, or have spring flowers, bedding plants or annuals, and nothing more. There should be no shrubs or large plants, no kerbs or hard borders of any kind, no gravel, chippings or artificial grass; no artificial flowers (except poppies at Remembrance and wreaths at Christmas); and no ornaments, which includes animal statues and figurines (e.g. angels), toys, photographs and pictures, windmills, chimes, and the like.
In previous years – before I arrived as Priest-in-Charge in 2014 – many graves were allowed that don’t meet the rules; this makes enforcing them very difficult. These rules may look quite restrictive, but they seek to safeguard two key things: one, that both burial areas retain the look of historic churchyards; and two, the sheerly practical need for easy maintenance, as our excellent cemetery volunteers are few, and most are mature in years!
These regulations have effectively been in force for many years, but only in the last few months have we managed to put up a copy of them in both burial grounds. We do accept that they could have been in place sooner, but are now there for all to see, and also here on this page. When the Churchyard Rules first appeared in both parish magazines in November 2018, I said that we were aware that several graves and ashes plots don’t meet the regulations, and that in time we would seek to take action to change this.
The time has now come to put this into effect. During this year (2019) the Churchwardens and I will be looking at the graves and ashes plots in both burial places, and if we believe that particular graves need changing, we’ll either contact the family (if we know them) or leave a laminated notice on the grave, drawing attention to the changes that are needed.
We do realise that this is a very sensitive subject and we are not seeking changes overnight. As the ‘Rules’ put it, we’re happy to work with families over time to make the Burial Ground more as it should be. We wish to cooperate sensitively with people to ensure that both areas are well kept and regain their true character as country churchyards.
Yet we are seeking permanent changes, simply because we have a duty of care for both the Burial Ground and the Cemetery, so we can ensure that they reflect their historic country character and retain this for future generations.
If you have any issues or concerns with this then please contact me in the first instance.
Revd. Simon Garwood
On behalf of the Churchwardens and PCCs of St Mary’s Kelvedon and All Saints’ Feering