Why Anchoring Your Headstone Is So Important

When purchasing a headstone for your loved one’s grave, one of the most important things to consider is will it be anchored. If the answer is yes, then you can be sure that the gravestone is secure for many years to come.

Sarsfield Memorbramm logo accreditationials is a member of the British Register of Accredited Memorial Masons (BRAMM). This was set up in 2004 to establish a national register of accredited masons to replace the local registration schemes which were then in existence.  This is the masons equivalent of the CORGI standard which is applied to gas fitters  Many local authorities are now only allowing masons to fit memorials that have signed up to BRAMM.

Among the aims of BRAMM is to ensure all gravestones are fixed to the BS8415 standard. This specifies minimum lengths of anchor that are needed, dependent on ground conditions.

The anchoring system used by Sarsfield is the Ground Support System C.C.A ® Central Collapsible Support. These anchors are adjustable depending on the thickness of the base of the memorial, they require no adhesive cement and are simple for Masons to remove and re-affix to headstones, should the gravestone have to be removed for future internments.














All of Sarsfield’s masons have the BRAMM fixer licence, so you can be rest assured at the quality of our workmanship. These are issued to fixers once they passed a practical and written test, meaning that installing the headstone to the BS8415 standard is guaranteed. Fixers must re-apply for their licence every five years and be able to show that they continue to meet the standards required. Any headstone supplied by someone with a BRAMM Fixer Licence is certain to be stable and fitted to a uniform standard by somebody with the skills and knowledge of the procedures required to do so.

Sarsfield Memorials will always guarantee that all new headstones anchored by our masons are done so to the BRAMM standards. The same applies to older gravestones that we may restore, as if a memorial is removed from a cemetery it must be anchored to minimum standards on refixing, even if it wasn’t initially fitted to them.

Liverpool City Council is one local authority that does not require masons to be BRAMM accredited. However we are because we choose to fix our memorials to a standard that is recognised throughout the trade and give our customers added security and peace of mind. Please contact us for advice and a free no obligation quote if you are thinking of buying a memorial or wish to bring an older one up to the modern safety standards.

Grave Tending for Christmas

Christmas is a time when family members may want to remember their loved ones by paying a visit to the grave. However factors such as location, age, disability and time can make this difficult. At Sarsfield memorials though we can give you peace of mind by laying a wreath or any other floral arrangements for you and ensure that the grave is suitably maintained.

Our basic ChristmasIMG_0237 grave tending costs £50 and involves a visit to the grave between 14th December and 24th December, where a 12 inch holly wreath will be laid. We will also remove all dead plants, flowers and leaf litter, and clean and empty vases. For an extra cost, fresh flowers can also be placed there in addition to the wreath. The grass will be trimmed and edged around the headstone, which will be lightly cleaned with soap and water.

A photograph will be taken at the beginning and end of the tending visit so you can see what has been done, and you will also be provided with a written report on the condition of the gravestone. This means that you are made aware at the earliest opportunity of any damage or remedial work that may be required.

In addition to Sarsfield Memorials’ basic Christmas grave tending service, there are additional options that are available for an extra charge. These include leaving artificial flowers and plants, replacing vases, planting bulbs or leaving additional flowers or holly crosses.

Sarsfield Memorials has a year round grave tending service, with a tiered price structure depending on how frequently it is required.  All options involve the same sIMG_0236ervice as the Christmas visit (except for the wreath). The bronze option sees us tend to the grave annually, silver involves quarterly visits, while gold is for those who would like the grave tended to monthly. Discounts are available for more than one grave.

As well as the grave tending, we are also able to carry out turfing work around the memorial, add topsoil, replace chippings, or give the headstone a full chemical clean. If necessary, we can re-anchor or level the headstone too.

Please contact us for further information about our Christmas or year round grave tending service and we will be happy to discuss your requirements and give you a free no obligation quote.

Floral Ornamentation on Gravestones

Historically any ornamentation added to gravestones has been predominantly religious in nature. Although such symbols have not disappeared today and remain popular, especially among the Catholic faith, floral ornamentation has also become a common sight on new headstones.

One form of floral ornamentation that can be seen on older graves is ivy, which indicates affection, fidelity and everlasting life. Other symbols of immortality include evergreens, figs and yews.

Nowadays roses are a common form of ornamentation on headstones, symbolising beauty, hope and unfailing love. The stage of the rose’s development indicates how old the person was at the time of death. A bud will be used for somebody aged under twelve, a partial bloom represents a teenager and a full bloom shows that somebody has died in the prime of their life.

Lilies are another flower that are often added in ornamental form to gravestones today, usually on those of women. They signify purity and innocence and there use at death reflects the rcow parsleyestoration of the soul to its previous innocence.

Trees on gravestones represent the love of Christ and tree of life. Like with roses, the development of the tree coincides with the age of the person on whose headstone the ornament has been placed. Sprouting trees indicate everlasting life but stumps or trunks are usually used to signify that the person whose headstone they are on has died too young.

Younger persons headstones may also be decorated by a broken branch or bud, which indicates that they departed life too soon. It is also common to see daffodils and daisies on youngsters graves, these flowers representing purity of thought.

People who have had a long life may also have their gravestones decorated by wheat, reflecting resurrection and harvesting into a new life. Flowers that are generally mournful include cypress tress, said to be what Christ’s cross was made of, as well as willows and yew trees.

Sarsfield Memorials are able to provide a wide range of gravestone ornamentation and the examples given here are not exhaustive. We are able to provide just about anything you wish, the most unusual design we have been asked to do being cow parsley. Another well known name for this plant is mother dies, the design having been carved into the slate headstone. Please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your requirements.




6th November 2015 is the 150th anniversary of the last act of the American Civil War, when the CSS Shenandoah lowered its flag and surrendered in the River Mersey. Commemorations are taking place in the city, which was the home of the Confederate embassy in Britain during the war and where one of the key players and some servicemen are buried.

Although hostilities had ceased in April, the Shenandoah had continued to target Union ships off the coast of Alaska, the Captain not having known the war had ended. Knowing he faced being tried as a pirate Captain James Waddell sailed for England and on reaching the mouth of the Mersey asked to be taken to a British war vessel. After being escorted by a pilot to the HMS Donegal, where a formal surrender took place and the captain, officers and crew were taken ashore. Despite appeals by the American authorities, the British government refused to extradite any of the Shenandoah crew.


The Shenandoah had originally been called the Sea King and was purchased by James Dunwoody Bulloch in October 1864. The vessel then sailed from London apparently for India, but at Madeira was fitted out as a warship and troops taken aboard. The Union Jack was then lowered, the Stainless Banner raised and the ship then sailed to Melbourne for supplies, before hunting down whaling ships in the North Pacific and Arctic oceans.

In August 1865 Captain Waddell was shown a newspaper confirming that the war had ended by the captain of the Barracouta, a San Francisco bound ship that had sailed from of Liverpool. the flag was lowered, guns stored below deck and the Shenandoah then spent three months evading Union ships on its way to Liverpool. The Confederate flag was raised again for entry to the River Mersey on the orders of the pilot who refused to escort the ship unless it was flying one.

James Dunwoody Bulloch, who arranged the purchase of the Shenadoah, was born in 1823 in Georgia, a southern US state heavily dependent on its cotton-based economy and the slaves on its plantations. He joined the US Navy at the age of 16, but by the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, was commanding a passenger mail ship for the Cromwell Steam Company. Asked to carry Unionist soldiers being sent to the South to crush the Confederacy rebellion, Bulloch resigned his commission and enlisted in the Confederate States Navy.

Bulloch arrived in Liverpool on 4 June 1861, charged with the task of buying or building ships for the Confederate Navy to help in its struggle against the Unionists. This was a sensitive and dangerous mission as English law prohibited the supply of armed war vessels to foreign countries at war. Investigated several times for illegal activity, he managed to stay one step ahead of the authorities. He built a relationship with the shipping firm Fraser & Trenholm and worked from its offices in Rumford Place in Liverpool city centre. His role included arranging for cotton to be smuggled past the Union blockade and providing the Confederacy with its only real source of income throughout the conflict.

In 1862, he commissioned the building of the CSS Alabama from John Laird Sons & Company (Cammell Laird, Birkenhead). This was used successfully for commerce raiding, atJames Dunwoody Bulloch Grave1tacking Union merchant ships and disrupting trade. After the collapse of the Confederacy the US authorities never forgave Bulloch for his role in the Civil War. He chose to remain in Liverpool, living out his days as a successful cotton importer and broker. During the war he had lived in Waterloo but he later moved to Toxteth, living at 30 Sydenham Avenue. He died at his son-in-law’s home at 76 Canning Street in 1901 at the age of 77 and is buried in Toxteth Cemetery.

The sesquicentennial of the Shenandoah surrender is being commemorated in Liverpool, events including a service of remembrance at the Church of Our Lady and St Nicholas on 6th November and a dinner at the Adelphi Hotel on 7th November. On the same say at Anfield Crematorium a service of remembrance is being held, commemorating the three Shenandoah crew members buried in the cemetery there.

Religious Ornamentation on Gravestones

It has always been a common practice for religious ornamentation to be added to gravestones and although it is not as common nowadays as in Victorian times, the practice is far from being a thing of the past.

Older graves of people who held strong religious beliefs are often symbolised by carvings of the Virgin Mary or Jesus Christ. Bibles would be used too, but usually these were reserved for those who had held pastoral positions or taught in Sunday schools.

Eucharists, representing the body and blood of Christ, are often to be seen on the headstones of priests and nuns. It is also common to see rosaries on the headstones of devout Catholics. Strong faith is represented too by hands clasped in prayer and a woman holding the cross.

In modern times, Christianity is more likely to be represented by angels who guide the soul to heaven. If the angel is blowing a trumpet, it is signifies the Resurrection and call to the Day of Judgement. Doves are another common religious ornamentation in modern times. These birds are the messengers of God and symbols of the Holy Spirit, which can also be reflected by winged wheels.

The popularity of angels and doves today doesn’t mean other religious figures are disappearing altogether and saints, crosses, The Sacred Heart and Our Lady  can still be found on newer headstones.

angel praying gravestone

There are also more subtle ways that headstone ornaments show the ending of this life and passage to heaven, which was often shown by arches in older times. Gates is one way that this is represented but chariots are another way of demonstrating the journey to everlasting life. Heaven itself is represented by angels in clouds.

Children’s graves are often decorated with cherubs, while an angel weeping is also a common way of showing an untimely death. Rose buds are often white in colour for virginity and purity. Birds in flight, denoting winged souls, are often seen on the graves of children and show the divine mission and eternal life.

Non Christian religious symbols include the Megan Dawid on Jewish gravestones and a crescent with moon for headstones of those of the Islamic faith. Buddhist memorials are often decorated with Shih Tzus, which literally translate as ‘lion dog.’

At Sarsfield Memorials we provide a wide range of religious ornamentation for gravestones and examples of what we offer can be viewed here. Please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your requirements.