A New Year Message For Our Customers

As 2021 draws to a close, Sarsfield Memorials would like to thank all our customers for the continued support during the year which has been another challenging one.

sarsfield family crestThe ongoing issues with Covid have obviously continued to affect the way we work, with many customer consultations having to be done remotely. We have always preferred to see customers face to face in their homes and have been continuing this way, if it could be done safely. However we also appreciate that even if the rules allow meetings there are some who wish to limit who they interact with and we have respected this when discussing orders.

We have also done many appointments at the graveside or a loved ones favourite outdoor location. This has often made it easier for clients to discuss their wishes for the memorial at a difficult time. As a customer-led business, we remain attentive to their needs and do all we can to make our customers feel as comfortable as possible when dealing with them.

Dealing with basic health and wellbeing due to Covid has been difficult enough but the extra challenges faced by the container crisis has been an extra burden. This has led to delivery delays in granite memorials from India and China, as well as price hikes but we have managed to honour original quotations. However our current prices are not sustainable longer term and we will have no option but to increase our prices in 2022.

We head into 2022 not knowing how the Omicron variant will affect our daily lives, but are hopeful our customers can have a safe and healthy New Year. Throughout 2022 we will be marking the 75th anniversary of Sarsfield Memorials foundation with a number of special offers as well as supporting community events and charities. Please keep an eye on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for updates, which will be updating at least once a month.

Once again, thank you to all our customers for their continued loyalty and support and we look forward to providing a service over the next twelve months and beyond.

Sarsfield Memorials is 75 Next Year

2022 is nearly upon us and that means the Sarsfield family will have been offering memorial services to bereaved families in Liverpool for 75 years. To commemorate this milestone Sarsfield Memorials will be supporting community events and making special offers available for customers.

We were founded in 1947 and have been very fortunate that most of our customers are through word of mouth and recommendations. This has led to us getting many repeat customers and serving many generations of the same family over time. We visit you in the comfort of your home or at the graveside, but can also work with you and confirm orders by email for families further afield. We are customer led and aim to make the process as simple as possible for you.

At Sarsfield Memorials we pride ourselves on the first class service we offer, which has been passed through the generations. Ursula and the team love to hear stories from customers about their loved ones. So many of these have changed throughout the generations and always sound more interesting years later.

Throughout 2022 Ursula and the team wish to share their achievement of 75 years as a family business with families who have graves in the Liverpool area. Each month, we will be offering discounts or something for free to customers and the wider community.

In January (Covid 19 permitting) we will be funding a community event with Smile & Experience TLC . This is a Community Interest Company supporting those affected by dementia. It will be held at Mossley Hill Athletics Club with a singer and buffet, date to be confirmed. A further community event will be funded in May, with details to be announced nearer the time.

Between February and April, then June and December, please check our special offers page regularly. They will have one off offers added and once they are gone they will not be repeated.

These offers will take the form of discounted new memorials, free cleaning of an existing memorial, free insurance, free coloured glass chippings on kerb memorials, a free goodie bag, bottle of wine, chocolates and flowers. We really look forward to sharing them with our customers during 2022.


Councils Not Liable For Grave Thefts

In recent months we have become aware of damage to and thefts from memorials in two of Liverpool’s cemeteries, Allerton and Everton. This is despicable behaviour but grave thefts are something local authorities are not liable for. It is the grave owners responsibility to arrange insurance cover against such acts. 

grave thefts

The incidents were obviously deeply upsetting for those visiting graves of their loved ones, only to find ornaments mindlessly smashed, or in some cases stone chippings taken. Whereas it is easy to ask what the council or police are doing to stop such acts, the reality of doing so is somewhat different. Cemeteries cover such a large area that even if the resources were available to have mobile patrols on site at all times, there remains opportunity for someone determined enough to commit the act. 

The logistics and cost of covering every plot with CCTV is far too prohibitive, not to mention intrusive on mourners. This means that those who are damaging or stealing items know that there is little chance of getting caught once they have done what they set out to. 

If your memorial or associated ornamentation is damaged in any way, the blow can be softened somewhat if you have insurance. This is something we recommend via Stoneguard Memorial Insurance, provides cover against theft and vandalism as well as a range of other problems, including storm and frost damage. Policies are available for as little as £6.20 a year.

Most local authorities will only accept liability for damage to memorials if negligence can be proven. When applying for permission to erect a memorial in any of Liverpool city council’s cemeteries, the applicant must declare whether or not they have accepted memorial insurance. The form is clear in that the council accepts no responsibility for any damage caused by vandalism or maintenance operations unless there is proven negligence. Therefore, we really do recommend you take out memorial insurance to cover against either wanton or accidental damage to your memorial.



Sarsfield’s War Memorials

Remembrance Sunday is upon us once more, when we remember those who gave their lives in the two world wars and later conflicts. Across the United Kingdom, many people will gather at war memorials to pay their respects for the first time in two years, with 2020’s commemorations being severely curtailed due to Covid 19 restrictions.

Although monumental masons are associated mainly with the provision and restoration of headstones in cemeteries, they are also able to work on war memorials too and at Sarsfield it has been no different.

In 2018, to mark one hundred years since the end of World War One, Sarsfield worked on a memorial for Stockbridge Village, which was placed in the Neighbourhood Centre there. The idea for the memorial came about following the closure of St Jude’s Church in 2016. The Tenants’ Forum raised funds to finance the memorial, which contains slabs commemorating both the living and dead.

Another memorial project that Sarsfield were involved in was the Hale Village war memorial, back in 2004. The cenotaph at the corner of High Street and Town Lane was dedicated, with the Hale branch of the Royal British Legion also being launched. Sarsfield’s involvement in this project was the cleaning of a boulder stone then carving the names of eleven soldiers from both world wars who had Hale connections (photo right by Phil Nash). This had come about following extensive research by the Hale War Memorial Restoration Committee. The boulder had been donated by Asda, having once stood outside their store in Halebank.

Hale Village War Memorial Sarsfield were proud to be involved in the Hale Village war memorial rededication, the original cenotaph having first been unveiled in 1920 by Lord Chavasse. The wider project also involved the provision of railings, the original ones having been melted down for the war effort during World War Two. The newly cleaned was blessed, hundreds paraded through the village and Jim Ross of the British Legion told the press “Everything came together well at the end and it was a magnificent occasion”.

Private graves may be Sarsfield’s day to day business, but it is always nice to have variety. It was very satisfying for us to be involved in such poignant events with these war memorials that remember so many brave servicemen and women.


Memorials Supply Chain Issues

Despite life in the UK being almost back to normal thanks to the success of the vaccine rollout, the ability of monumental masons to supply memorials in cemeteries remains limited. This is due to ongoing disruptions in the supply chain that have been caused by Covid 19.

The shortage of hauliers in the UK is well documented. However the problems start beyond these shores. Containers are in short supply across Asia, having been stuck on the wrong side of the world during lockdowns. As Sarsfield and many other masons source much of our material from India, this has had an impact.

Due to there being less containers to load their products on to, suppliers have reduced production. In turn, shipping lines have cut capacity, pushing up prices with additional surcharges being introduced to guarantee loading. The end result of this had been the doubling of shipping costs. There have also been added delays due to the Suez Canal being blocked for six days earlier this year when the Ever Given got stuck in it.

The impact for this at Sarsfield Memorials is that whereas we could once have your memorial supplied and fitted within eight weeks of ordering, it is now more likely to be eighteen. Although we have tried to keep our most popular designs in stock, demand has been outstripping supply. We will give you estimated timescales when orders are placed, but cannot offer guaranteed dates for completion at this current time.

We are hopeful the situation will begin to improve in the first few months of 2022, but unfortunately we will have no option but to raise prices at that time. We have managed to hold prices in 2021, but delivery costs have increased and we cannot sustain this.

Despite the difficulties faced, Sarsfield Memorials, Liverpool’s longest established family run monumental mason business, remains committed to providing a high quality and attentive service. We remain open for business and although we may not be able to fulfil your order as quickly as we’d like, you will receive the same standards of care and attention in these difficult times. Please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your requirements, provide a no obligation quote.

Muslim Memorials

Muslim memorials in Britain’s cemeteries tend not to be over elaborate. If there is a stone marker at all, it is usually of a plain ogee type and sometimes will come with kerbset and slab over the grave space.

In Liverpool’s Allerton cemetery, a dedicated Muslim section was created in 2017 which should have capacity until at least 2035. There is also a dedicated Muslim woodland section. This is a place for eco-friendly burials and only basic wooden markers are allowed. Allerton is thus almost unique, as in addition to the Muslim section there are dedicated sections for Church of England, Roman Catholic, Nonconformist and Jewish burials.

Sometimes Muslim memorials are no more than a simple wooden marker with a plaque. However, for those that prefer their loved ones grave to be marked by a conventional headstone, there are a range of options available. At Sarsfield we have a wide selection of headstones in the finest quality granite, marble and stone to suit all budgets. We are able to carve inscriptions in Arabic or Urdu to create a lasting tribute. We can also supply kerb sets, vases, memorial plaques and other grave ornamentation.

We work with our clients on the design process at your home or at another convenient location, whatever suits best at a difficult time. We are on hand to discuss your needs at a very difficult and sensitive time, making the process as easy as possible. We are Liverpool’s oldest family run monumental mason, having been in existence for over seventy years and now in its third generation. We pride ourselves in providing memorials for all denominations.

If you would like to discuss the Muslim memorials we have available, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your requirements and provide a free no obligation quote.

Be Cautious Over Grave Care Services

The Covid 19 pandemic has seen a rise in the number of small businesses offering grave care services. As a licensed monumental mason that has been operating for over seventy years, we would urge caution however if you are planning to use one of these grave care services.

A headstone before and after it was cleaned by Sarsfield Memorials craftsmen

In most local authorities, no license is needed to tend to or clean a grave. One exception is Knowsley, where a cemetery a permit is required. Cemetery fees also apply to the Archdiocese run Ford and Yew Tree cemeteries. Cemeteries were no permit or fee is required, including those maintained by Liverpool city council, mean that there is nothing to stop businesses offering to clean and tidy up graves, as well as change ornamentation or chippings for example.

The pandemic has limited most people’s ability to travel and forced many to shield and/or isolate. This has provided a perfect opportunity for grave care services to step in and fill a void, offering to clean and tidy the area around memorials. Some of these companies have been joining local history and cemetery groups on social media to try and gain customers. They have seized on any posts showing photos of headstones in need of TLC to plug themselves.

Genealogy has become increasingly popular during Covid. People furloughed from work, or unable to enjoy their usual hobbies, have been using the opportunity to research their family history. Graves of long-lost relatives have been uncovered, many times in a state of disrepair. This has become another opportunity for grave care services businesses to step in and target potential customers, offering to locate their plots in the cemetery, as well as giving the opportunity of a clean-up.

Some grave care services have gone beyond simple cleaning and tidying of graves, taking advantage of customers not knowing the rules. An example is regilding of lettering using poor quality paint or using filler on leaded letters which is not allowed and would not be done by experienced masons. However, the reality is most customers would not generally know this, until it is too late.

Our staff have also observed another grave care company remove a headstone to clean it, then not replace it properly with an anchoring system. Aside from the operative having no authority to do this, at some point in the future the grave owner will face a bill to have the memorial made safe. Even worse they could have a legal case again them regarding the safety and stability of the memorial if an accident should occur, or the council are within their rights to lay it flat.

One cemetery friends’ group has made us aware that one company went as far as digging into the ground and disturbing a grave to find the brick that marks the plot number, then placed a pole there so it could be located by the relative, disturbing any burial grave like they did is not allowed.

We recommend that you research masons local to the area, read reviews on the companies, check they are registered with local councils, speak to them and ask questions. If you are handing over money for a job that you cannot do yourself, pay for a quality job by experienced masons.

If you do decide against a mason and use grave care services providers, which we acknowledge offer competitive rates, to clean your memorial, please check their reviews and ask to see proof of liability insurance. Also ask to see examples of their work a few years down the line, to see what if any damage has occurred. There is a risk that memorials can be ruined if they are not cleaned with the right materials, ask how they are cleaned and what products are used.

If you are going to use a grave services company, please shop around and do not accept the first offer that comes along, especially if they contact you via social media or are touting for business in the Cemetery. Be wary of any approaches in cemeteries at weekends. Monumental Masons are only allowed to work in cemeteries over the weekends by consent, work is generally not carried out over the weekends unless the weather has been exceptionally bad or the mason is very busy. This is because the Cemeteries have a lot more visitors over the weekends and families like to pay their respects to their loved ones without machinery going in the background. Also the cemetery staff (who only work Monday to Friday) like to monitor the Masons and what work is carried out in the cemeteries.

Sarsfield Memorials is Liverpool’s oldest family run monumental mason business and we offer grave tendering and cleaning services. In some cases, our prices may be higher than grave care services, but we are confident that this is reflected in the quality of our work. If you would like to discuss the cleaning of a memorial, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your requirements and provide a free no obligation quote.


Slate Memorials

slate memorialsSlate is a wonderful alternative to some of the more common forms of materials used for memorials. Slate memorials are of supreme quality and extremely durable against the elements, providing a lasting tribute to your loved one.

Slate memorials can be cut to a range of shapes, including rectangle, square, or oval. The tops can be rounded, gently curved, or angled. Alternatively, the slate can be left in its natural shape, which means chipped edges. Care does have to be taken when shaping the slate, so non rectangle designs do tend to cost more.

Traditionally letters on slate headstones are hand carved to a deep v cut letter. Some families will request an artistic style of lettering, so the memorial has an artisan look to it, other families prefer a simple bold letter.

Although it can be unforgiving when mistakes are made, for the skilled mason it is a fabulous material to work on, it is a very tactile material. Letters can also be sandblasted which gives a more rounded effect. This is not our preferred method to letter a slate memorial, but we can offer it, if the family prefer. Lettering on slate is either
‘left from the tool’ once carved, which means it has no colour, or it is painted white or silver. We can gild it if required, but that would not be a traditional finish to the lettering.

Grey slate from North Wales is often used for memorials. However, at Sarsfield Memorials the type we receive the most requests for are Cumbrian or Lakeland Green slate, from the Lake District. This is very versatile when it comes to carving and it combines well with the cemetery landscape. Green slate is never polished, but instead rubbed down to keep smooth. It can be cleaned easily and does not lose its colour due to weathering.

One third of the height of slate memorials go under the ground to keep it secure. The memorial can be easily removed if additional inscriptions are needed, without fear of damage. You can add a base if you wish, so that it looks like a lawn memorial and would be fixed in the normal way on a concrete foundation and an anchoring system.

Sarsfield Memorials have a wide range of slate options, whilst we can also bespoke them to your requirements. Please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to discuss with you and provide a free no obligation quote.



Cremated Remains Plots

As more people choose to have their loved ones cremated rather than buried, it follows that there is increasing demand for cremated remains plots in cemeteries. At Sarsfield Memorials we have found though that some customers are confused as to what they are actually purchasing, as there are a number of different options.

Focussing solely on cemeteries and crematoriums maintained by Liverpool City Council, then how your loved ones ashes are interred or scattered vary considerably. What you choose very much is to do with how much you are willing to spend and in what ways you intend paying your respects.

cremated remains plots If quiet contemplation and reflection is your wish, then options offered at the gardens of remembrance in Anfield and Springwood crematoriums may well be for you. Here, ashes can be scattered and a memorial rose planted with a plaque displayed for up to five years at a cost of £152. Alternatively, a wall plaque is £229 or spaces in colonnade niches available for £456 for up to ten years, with further charges for inscriptions and photographs. At Springwood there is a dedicated baby garden of rest with plaque options available. In all these cases the plaques are removed at the end of the time period unless you pay for renewal.

If you prefer to remember your loved one in a more personal setting for a longer period, or you want to keep ashes of family members are a better option. Allerton, Anfield, and Everton cemeteries have plots solely for the interment of cremated remains, each holding up to four caskets. These cost £643 for Liverpool residents and have a lease of 75 years, which is renewable. These plots allow for permanent memorials to be placed there. Subjects to size restrictions, these memorials can be bespoke with whatever inscriptions and images you wish to have added.

cremated remains plotsThe third and final option involves no payment at all to the council or memorial masons. There is no legal requirement for ashes to be disposed of in designated cremated remains plots. So if you wish to bury them in your garden, or scatter them in your loved one’s favourite place, there is nothing to stop you. If you have a family grave in a council cemetery, their name could be added to the existing memorial as a permanent record of their life.

Sarsfield Memorials is Liverpool’s Oldest daily run monumental mason business. We are licensed to work in all of Liverpool’s cemeteries and have a range of memorial options available. If you would like to discuss your requirements please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to provide a quote with no obligation.

Sacred Heart & Our Lady of Lourdes Memorials

In a more secular age, religious themes are not as common in cemeteries as in times gone by. That doesn’t mean they have gone altogether though and there remains a high demand for two figures in particular, those being the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Our Lady of Lourdes memorials.

white marble Sacred Heart against black granite

The Sacred Heart represents Christ’s love for humanity and has developed to indicate love between two people. The significance of Our Lady of Lourdes is the Roman Catholic shrine at Lourdes, France and its healing qualities. This had made it a popular pilgrimage site that is relatively easy to access from Britain.

In both respects, memorials depicting the Sacred Heart and Our Lady of Lourdes may do so by way of a carved statue incorporated into the headstone, as an engraving, or instead separate ornamentation standing freely. This allows for a range of options in terms of both subtlety and price. The symbols can be an integral part of the memorial, or a discreet one. Either way, there are plenty of choices available for you depending on to what extent you want the Sacred Heart or Our Lady of Lourdes as part of the memorial, alongside your budget.

Our Lady of Lourdes Memorials etching

Statues for Sacred Heart and Our Lady of Lourdes memorials are usually white. As part of a white marble memorial they blend in nicely, but alternatively they can provide a sharp contrast if the headstone is black or grey granite. Any such memorial is sure to stand out in any cemetery. Improvements in technology have allowed for the symbols to be etched onto headstones more easily. The etching can then be left at the material’s natural colour or for added effect, hand painted in colours of your choosing.

Sarsfield Memorials have been a family run monumental mason business operating in Liverpool for over seventy years. We have plenty of options for memorials with Sacred Heart and Our Lady of Lourdes designs. Please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your requirements and provide a free no obligation quote.