Christmas Grave Tending

Christmas is a time when relatives often seek to visit graves of loved ones, ensuring they are not forgotten at such a special time of year.

Sometimes cemetery visits for Christmas grave tending may not be practical for weather, geographical or health reasons, or maybe because there simply isn’t enough time. If this is the case Sarsfield Memorials can help you out if your relative is buried in a cemetery in the Liverpool, Knowsley or south Sefton areas.

We can visit your loved one’s grave and leave a wreath, potted bulbs or flowers there for you. Popular choices of flowers for Christmas graves include roses and lilies, but you may prefer to have artificial ones that will last longer against the elements. For a more religiously minded symbol, holly crosses or holly wreaths can also be left. We will also ensure the area around the grave is tidy, cleaning the vase and removing any old flowers or litter that have gathered in the autumn and early winter.


At the end of our visit we will photograph the grave and send the image to you via email or in the post. If required we can remove any items at the end of the holiday period. Prices start at £10 and anybody using our Christmas grave tending service this year can also take advantage of a special offer up until the end of March 2017. If you require the grave to be re-fixed, cleaned or the letters re-gilded, we will give you a 20% discount providing we have carried out work at Christmas and the order is placed before the 31st March 2017.

Sarsfield Memorials’ Christmas visits in 2016 will take place between 19th December and Christmas Eve. Please contact us if you would like us to help you remember someone special at this time of year. We will be happy to discuss your wishes and provide a free no obligation quote.

The Grave of Richard John Blackler

After several years gathering dust the Blacklers Santa, once a Liverpool Christmas institution, was  put on display again this week at the Museum of Liverpool.

The five metres high  Blacklers Santa was created by artist Peter Blazey in 1957 and was displayed every Christmas until the store in closed in 1988. The focal point of the Great Charlotte Streetblacklers-interior-lpool-picturebook store’s grotto, it captivated the imagination of visiting children and has now been restored thanks to a £10,000 donation from medial mogul Phil Redmond. It will now be on display annually at the popular waterfront museum.

The Blacklers store was first opened by Richard John Blackler and his business partner A B Wallis in 1908. After Richard’s death in 1919, his widow Margaret took over her husband’s share of the store. After being gutted by fire following an air raid in the May Blitz of 1941, Blacklers managed to keep going. They moved quickly to acquire a number of smaller temporary premises from which to operate in Church Street and Bold Street. Blacklers had trouble of another kind in 1941, being fined £8 for purchasing eggs from a Welsh farmer at higher then the government controlled price. Their defence, that it had been done to feed staff and not for profit, was dismissed by magistrates.

Twelve years after the air raid, a fully renovated store on the original site re-opened in 1953. The 1950s was a resurgent decade for Liverpool and Blacklers played its part in this, employing over one thousand people. Amongst these employees was Beatle George Harrison, who as an apprentice electrician there before the bblacklers-graveand went on to greater things. Margaret Blackler died at the age of eighty five in 1957, the same year that the Blacklers Santa first went on display. She was buried alongside her husband in Allerton cemetery.

Margaret Blackler had no children and her god-daughter Vera Kingston became the major shareholder. After Vera died in 1983 the store fell into the hands of private owners and closed just five years later. In the early 1990s, the city’s first Wetherspoons pub, the Richard John Blackler, opened on the site.

The Blacklers Santa fell into disrepair for over twenty five years, leaving on the head, hands and boots intact. Following Phil Redmond’s donation Peter Blazey himself carried out the restoration work, having made a career of creating grottos. Blazey told the Liverpool Echo that it was like recreating his youth, and Phil Redmond and his wife Alexis joined him for the unveiling at the Museum of Liverpool in Mann Island on 15th November 2016.


Liverpool City Council Cemetery Fees

If you are purchasing a grave or erecting/renovating a headstone at any Liverpool City council operated cemetery, there are a range of fees that are applicable and  they vary according to whether or not you are a resident of the city.

As at 1st November 2016, it costs Liverpool residents £900 to purchase a new burial grave while those for cremated remains are £557. These prices include the right to erect a memorial there, but do not include the cost of the interment itself. This costs £740 for a full burial of an adult, £132 for a child under sixteen and £228 for cremated remains, whether it be in a newly purchased grave or an existing one. For non Liverpool residents, the cost of the grave purchase and interment needs to be doubled.


These prices are on the assumption that the interment will take place on a weekday, for a Saturday they rise by 50% and for a Sunday they double. The interment fees for existing graves include the cost of removing the headstone only, if you have a kerbset then you must contact a mason for them to remove the headstone and kerbs, Liverpool city council will not remove them. A mason will charge for this service. We are able to remove them at the agreed cost and we will store them for you free of charge until the ground has settled and they can be refixed. If the council remove the headstone for an internment it will remain lying on the grave until you authorise a mason to refix it, this is due to changes in health and safety regulations, they must be fixed with an anchoring system by an approved mason.

If you are looking to add or replace a headstone to a grave that was purchased or re-opened before 1st April 2002 a different set of fees apply. It is £300 for the right to erect a new larger monument anything over 48″ tall, or £142 for the right to place a memorial on both a full and cremated remains grave. The right to add kerbsets to these graves is £90, while for Jewish graves they are £142, due to the council supplying the foundation. Often families are confused by the cemetery fees so you can always check with a mason or contact the cemetery office direct on 0151 233 3004.

Liverpool cemeteries

There may be occasions when you are considering relocating your loved one’s remains, either within the cemetery or somewhere else altogether. Exhumation though is a costly business, with Liverpool city council charging £2297 for a full body. For cremated remains to be exhumed, the cost is £1093 from a full grave and £456 from a cremated remains one.

Liverpool City Council only allows those on its list of Registered Memorial Masons to operate within their cemeteries. Sarsfield Memorials is on this list and can assist with all necessary paperwork and fees if applicable when it comes to erecting or renovating memorials in the city’s cemeteries. Please contact us here for more information and we will be happy to give you a free no obligation quote.

All Souls Day

Celebrated annually by Roman Catholics on 2nd November (unless that date is on a Sunday when it is instead the 3rd), All Souls’ Day remembers all those who have died but who are not yet sanctified and ready to go to Heaven.

All Souls’ Day’s official name is The Commemoration of the Faithful Departed and in America it is referred to as The Feast of All Souls. It is also observed by some members of the Anglican Church, who term it the Commemoration of All Faithful Departed. In the Anglican and other Protestant churches, it is generally seen as an extension of All Saints Day, which falls on 1st November, whereas members of the Catholic church observe it on its own and many make special trips to cemeteries. In Eastern Orthodox Christianity, a number of days per year are set aside for praying for all souls, examples being around Lent and Pentecost.

The actual practice of praying for all the dead goes back to biblical times and the setting aside of 2nd November as a special date for this first occurred in 998 at the Abbey of Cluny in France. The tradition started there by St Odilo slowly spread throughout France but the date was not formalised by Rome until the fourteenth century. Legend has it that St Odilo established All Souls’ Day after a pilgrim came to the abbey after being stranded on an island where he was told by a hermit that Purgatory was below and tortured souls there lamented the lack of salvation sought for them by the monks at Cluny.

It is no coincidence that All Souls’ Day falls so close to Halloween. It actually is the culmination of the three day Hallowtide festival, of which 31st October is officially called All Hallows Eve. The wearing of costumes and carving scary faces into turnips (now pumpkins as they are far easier) actually  comes from the old custom of engaging in these acts to ward off wandering lost souls.

All Souls’ Day now is celebrated in many different ways around the world and is even a public holiday in some South American countries. In Poland, it is traditional to leave flowers and special lights at graves, while in neighbouring Czech Republic just giving the area around the grave a good tidy up is seen as sufficient. In Brittany people kneel at the grave and pour holy water and milk over the gravestone, in parts of Austria and Bolivia they take food but in Brazil it is just flowers. In Malta All Souls’ Day can extend to the whole month, with families making regular pilgrimages to cemeteries and special masses taking place at the parishes.