Cemeteries During Lockdown

England is facing a winter of restrictions of varying degrees depending on where you live. While the lockdown measures do not prohibit visits to cemeteries, the COVID 19 pandemic has had a significant impact on how local authorities and monumental  masons operate.

During the tightest of restrictions that were in place in March and April 2020, some local authorities, Bolton being one example, closed cemeteries completely even though they were not compelled to do so. Others, such as St Helens, asked people to help maintain social distancing by not exercising or walking their dogs in them.

Cemeteries lockdown

As with so many of the restrictions, the rules were very ambiguous – technically tending a loved one’s grave was not an essential journey if you went by car. However if you walked, jogged or cycled there, stopped to rest and carry out some grave maintenance, then it was arguably justifiable.

As people were allowed to go to work if they could not do so at home, then grave tending firms and masons could operate. This was not as simple as it seems though when it came to jobs that had to be done by more than one person. For masons, maintaining a safe social distance whilst moving heavy memorials was not practical and it took some time for proper procedures to be developed that kept staff safe. There were also issues around shielding and self isolation that reduced the ability to provide a service.

 

The services offered by local authority cemeteries also continues to differ in many areas. There has been a lot of publicity regarding how many can attend funerals, but not so much about staff shortages in cemetery departments due to sickness and the requirements to self isolate. This meant that in many areas interment of ashes has been suspended with regular burials being prioritised.

Even though masons have now worked out the practicalities of installing memorials or removing them for repair/renovation, they have been faced with other problems. There have been supply shortages with many materials due to import/export problems posed by the pandemic. Black granite is one example of a material in short supply, whilst earlier in the year the total shutdown in Italy posed problems when it comes to sourcing some types of marble.

We are now in a situation in respect of the burials from the peak of the pandemic, where the ground has now settled and memorials can be placed there. This has led to a surge in demand for new memorials, but coupled with the supply shortage and the fact autumn and winter is not an ideal time for working in cemeteries, it has slowed us down. At Sarsfield all we ask of our customers is to please bear with us at this time, we will process your orders as quickly as practically possible.

Sarsfield Memorials remains open for business but due to COVID 19 restrictions we are unable to visit you at home. We are happy though to meet you in cemeteries or discuss your order requirements by email and telephone. If you know the design of memorial required ask us to quote, so you are hopefully not facing long delays in the New Year. Orders can be confirmed by letter and deposits paid so you know your order is in hand. As material becomes available and when the ground is ready memorials can then be installed. If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

Kirkby Cemeteries

The town of Kirkby is situated in the north of the Metropolitan Borough of Knowsley and was developed as an overspill town for Liverpool in the 1950s. There are no Kirkby cemeteries, with residents encouraged to use the local authority cemetery at Whiston for the burial of their loved ones or interment of ashes. 

Kirkby Cemeteries

Opened in 1996 and officially named Knowsley cemetery, the one cemetery in the borough is often referred to as Whiston or Fox’s Bank. It is conveniently located in the centre of the borough in Fox’s Bank Lane, Whiston. This makes it equally accessible from Halewood, Huyton and Prescot, which also make up the borough. Plots are available for both burials and cremated remains.

 

Liverpool City Council run Kirkdale Cemetery is often used by Kirkby residents. This is despite the higher fees imposed for non Liverpool residents. There are two reasons for this why it remains popular however.  One is its proximity to Kirkby, being quicker to get to, especially for those reliant on public transport. The other is historical, as many Kirkby residents have family buried in the cemetery which is a legacy of the slum clearance of the 1950 when people were moved from inner city Liverpool to the new town. Kirkdale Cemetery does have new plots available for cremated remains, but regular burials can only take place in existing graves. 

Kirkby Cemeteries

The only place where burials can take place within Kirkby is in the graveyard at St Chad’s Church. Although it is a ‘new town’, there has actually been a settlement in Kirkby dating back to Norse to times and it was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. This explains the presence of St Chad’s Church, built one hundred years before the town’s expansion. Prior to St Chads’ there was a chapel there that was built in 1766. St Chad’s contains a number of Norman architectural features, a reference to an even earlier church that was on the site. 

Close to the lychgate entrance to St Chad’s, there are a number of graves that are a few hundred years old. At the back of the church is a modern well kept graveyard with newer graves. No new plots are available however and burials can only take place in existing graves where there is space available. 

Sarsfield Memorials is licensed to work in both Knowsley and Liverpool. If you are a Kirkby resident and interested in purchasing a memorial for a grave, or renovating an existing one, please contact us. We will be happy to discuss your requirements and provide a free no obligation quote. Due to the current situation with COVID 19, we are unable to see you at your homes  presently, but can meet you at a cemetery or churchyard. 

 

 

Southport Cemeteries

Sefton Council operates two cemeteries in Southport. One is at Duke Street near the town centre, the other off Liverpool Road in Ainsdale, which is actually known as Birkdale Cemetery. Both of the Southport cemeteries, despite having been in existence for well over one hundred years, are still open to new burials.

Southort Cemeteries

Duke Street Cemetery was developed in the 1860s. The older part, where there are many elaborate memorials, restricts vehicle access to protect its heritage. The modern sections are open to vehicles and only lawn type memorials are allowed to be erected at newly purchased burial plots there. In the 1990s a baby memorial garden was developed. 

Birkdale Cemetery opened in 1903 and does not have the same restrictions as Duke Street. Sections there each contain a mixture of older and newer memorials with plots still available to purchase for both regular burials and cremated remains.. Although there is a chapel at Birkdale, it has been out of use since the 1970s.

The offices for Southport cemeteries are at Southport Crematorium, situated off the A570 road in Scarisbrick. Situated in 32 acres of woodland, memorial plaques can be purchased and placed in the glades. There is also a Book of Remembrance at the crematorium, situated in a room open 9am-4pm weekdays, 10am-4pm weekends and bank holidays. 

As with most other local authorities, burial and memorial fees at Southport cemeteries vary depending on whether or not you are a resident of the Sefton metropolitan council area.  Council officers do respond to queries regarding finding graves in either of the Southport cemeteries if you email them with the name of the deceased and year they passed away. 

Due to the COVID 19 pandemic that has caused logistical difficulties and staff resource issues, it is currently not possible to scatter or inter ashes at Southport Cemeteries.  For updates on this situation, please follow this link. 

Sarsfield Memorials is licensed to carry out work in Sefton cemeteries. If you are interested in purchasing a memorial for a grave, or renovating an existing one, please contact us. We will be happy to discuss your requirements and provide a free no obligation quote. 

 

Sarsfield & the ‘New Normal’

At Sarsfield Memorials we are slowly adapting to the ‘new normal’ or ‘different kind of normal’ following the lockdown caused by the Covid 19 pandemic. There are however some changes to the way we are operating.

black and white photo of grand daughter of founder of business

When restrictions were at their tightest in April and May, we regrettably were unable to offer any kind of service apart from giving advice by phone or email. Sarsfield Memorials has always prided itself on delivering a personal face to face service and this was impossible. In terms of working in cemeteries, most of what we do requires two people due to the size and weight of memorials and it wasn’t feasible to do this within the social distancing guidelines. Keeping our staff safe, and not playing any part in the spread of the virus, was our primary concern.

As restrictions are relaxed, we are now able to offer a personal service again, albeit in a very different way to what we have been used to. Visiting inside your home remains out of the question, but we can see clients in their gardens, maintaining the two metre rule (or one metre plus by wearing face coverings).

We have also been able to meet clients in cemeteries to discuss their loved one’s new or refurbished memorial. As coffee shops and restaurants are opening we like to support other small businesses and are happy to arrange to meet you in premises open to the public. In accordance with social distancing and any rules that the individual premises may have, we’ll be happy to buy you a tea or coffee. We understand that some families may not wish to discuss a memorial in this way and we are here to help you in anyway we can to find a solution that both you as a customer and us as a small business are comfortable with.

When it comes to the processing of orders, the global supply chain did slow down during the pandemic, with many material suppliers not operating. This means that whereas we usually aim to have your memorial fixed within 6 to 12 weeks of ordering, 12 to 18 weeks on individually designed memorials is now a more realistic timeframe.

Please be aware too that some services cannot be offered at present due to circumstances beyond our control. These vary across local authorities who have had to make their own adjustments to cope with staff shortages caused by sickness or staff shielding during the lockdown. One example is in Liverpool city council cemeteries and in Sefton council cemeteries, where there have been no interment of cremated remains.

We will continue to review our working practices as government guidelines change. In all cases yours and our safety remains paramount. Please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to discuss your requirements and arrange a socially distanced meeting.

10% Discount For Restoration of Pre 1960 Graves

During the Covid 19 lockdown there has been a huge increase in the number of people researching their family trees and considering graves restoration. Many have had more time on their hands due to being furloughed from work, while cemeteries are one of the few public places that have remained open for people to go and check on graves of family members they have located.

graves restoration

The digitising of burial records up to the year 2000 for all Liverpool city council run cemeteries has opened the door for family researches looking into relatives who lived in that area. Committee members from the Friends of Allerton Cemetery have advised us they are receiving requests almost daily or assistance in locating graves there. Previously it would be just once a week or fortnight.

Inevitably, there may be disappointment at locating the grave plot of an ancestor only to find that there is no headstone, or one exists but is in a poor state of repair. However, within local authority-run cemeteries, permission is not usually required to clean up a memorial or re-gild the lettering.

It is tempting to try cleaning the memorial yourself, but you must be very cautious about this, as chemicals can cause the memorial material to deteriorate further, also damage can be caused to lettering. In the past year, a number of new local companies have been offering grave cleaning services, of varying standards.

At Sarsfield Memorials, we have been in the memorial business for 73 years and are Liverpool’s longest running family independent firm of monumental masons. We never compromise on quality and can assure you that we will only use the most suitable products in graves restoration and cleaning. Likewise, we will properly re-gild lettering and we can repair and replace leaded letters not simply paint over.

For anyone who has located an old family grave during lockdown and are looking at renovating the memorial, up until 31st August 2020 we are offering a 10% discount for cleaning, renovation and refixing of all memorials that were fitted before 1960. This we hope will go some way to helping out anyone who may be tempted by those offering lesser quality services, as well as bringing older sections of cemeteries into better shape. Please note however we cannot offer this discount where cemetery fees may apply for carrying out cleaning, in Liverpool Catholic Archdiocese run cemeteries for example Ford and Yew Tree cemeteries.

If you would like to discuss the restoration/cleaning of a memorial, please contact us here for a free no obligation quotation.

Chester West and Cheshire Council Cemeteries

Cheshire West and Chester Council operates five cemeteries and one crematorium across the borough, which was established in 2009 by the amalgamation of Chester, Ellesmere Port & Neston, and Vale Royal local authorities.

Chester West and Cheshire Cemeteries

Entrance to Chester Crematorium

All of the administrative staff are based at Blacon Cemetery. This is adjacent to Chester Crematorium,the only place in the borough for cremations. Blacon is one of two cemeteries in Chester. The other is in Overleigh, situated in the southern suburb of Handbridge.

The former borough of Ellesmere Port & Neston has cemeteries situated in Overpool and Neston. There is just one cemetery in what was Vale Royal; Wharton in Winsford. 

Memorials are restricted in size to four feet in height by three feet width. Kerb sets measuring up to seven feet six inches by three feet are allowed in traditional sections, but not the newer ones which are restricted to lawn type memorials. 

At Overleigh cemetery there are dedicated plots for the interment of both cremated remains and babies, where the size restrictions are two feet six inches by two feet and two feet three inches by two feet respectively. All of Cheshire West and Chester Council cemeteries have memorial gardens for the scattering of ashes, with various options for memorial plaques and vases.

There are a range of fees and charges for cemetery services provided by Cheshire West & Chester Council. New burial plots range from £1794.50 to £1971.50 for residents depending how many are to be buried in the grave. These fees double for non residents. Plots for cremated remains only cost £791.50. It costs £123.50 for the right to erect a memorial and £31 for additional inscriptions. A full list of the fees and charges can be viewed online here

Cheshire West and Chester Council cemeteries

Overpool Cemetery

Only masons registered with Cheshire West & Chester Council can carry out work in their cemeteries. After receiving lots of enquiries from our Liverpool customers asking us to supply memorials for deceased relatives in the borough, Sarsfield Memorials have now registered with the authority’s scheme. In doing this we are committing to carrying out work to a high standard and being respectful and considerate in cemeteries. 

As Liverpool’s oldest family run monumental mason, having been established in 1947, we look forward to working in the Cheshire West and Chester area. If you would like to install a memorial in any of the borough’s cemeteries, or renovate an existing one, please contact us. We will be happy to discuss your requirements and provide a free quote with no obligation. 

Liverpool City Council Cemeteries

Liverpool City Council administers six cemeteries at locations around the city. All of them were opened prior to the First World War, and not all of them have new grave plots available for purchase. 

Allerton Cemetery Entrance

The newest of Liverpool City Council’s cemeteries is Allerton, which opened in 1909. It was designed by the city engineer John A. Brodie, who sought to make it more welcoming, like a park, with much greenery and wide pathways. Allerton is rare in that all three of the denominational chapels are still standing, although none of them are currently in use. 

The lodge at Allerton Cemetery now home to the administrative staff of Liverpool City Council’s cemeteries and crematoria department. Please be aware though that there is no drop-in service, all enquiries are dealt with by email and telephone. 

Allerton Cemetery has new grave plots available for both regular burials and cremated remains. There is also a dedicated Muslim section as well as an area for eco-friendly woodland burials.

The only other of Liverpool City council’s cemeteries where plots can be purchased for both regular burials and cremated remains is Anfield, which opened in 1863. Of the other four cemeteries, Toxteth and Everton have new grave plots available. Kirkdale and West Derby cemeteries both have plots for cremated remains available, but burials can only be accommodated in existing graves which are not full to capacity. 

Liverpool City Council’s two crematoria are at Anfield and Springwood, which are both in very close proximity to Anfield and Allerton cemeteries respectively. Both crematoria have memorial gardens where ashes can be scattered and small memorial plaques placed for a fixed period. In addition Springwood has a dedicated baby garden and Anfield also has a columbarium where memorial caskets can be placed, renewable every five or ten years. 

A full range of Liverpool City Council’s fees and charges for their cemeteries can be downloaded here. As of February 2020, a grave plot including the right to erect a memorial costs £1040 for city residents and £2040 for non residents. The cost of replacing a memorial to an existing grave is £163 and adding inscriptions £46. Unlike many other local authorities, Liverpool still allows kerb sets in their cemeteries for a fee of £104. 

Sarsfield Memorials are licensed to work in all Liverpool City Council run cemeteries. We are Liverpool’s oldest family run monumental mason business and have been in going for over seventy years. If you would like to discuss erecting a memorial or renovating an existing one at an of Liverpool’s cemeteries or crematoria, please contact us. We will be happy to discuss your requirements and provide a free no obligation quote. 

 

Sefton Cemeteries

Sefton council, a metropolitan local authority covering north Merseyside, operates four cemeteries. Two of these are in Southport, and two in the south of the borough at Bootle and Thornton.

The oldest of the Sefton cemeteries is at Duke Street in Southport. Opened in 1866, this contains a number of imposing Victorian memorials and vehicle access is restricted in the older part. There are modern sections open to new burials however and there is also a dedicated baby memorial garden.

Sefton Cemeteries

Liverpool Road cemetery in Birkdale opened in 1903. Like Duke Street, this contains a number of elaborate memorials. The chapel, closed in the 1970s, remains an imposing feature of the cemetery which is still allows new burial plots to be purchased.

Bootle Cemetery on Linacre Lane opened in 1913. The site of the chapel, which fell into disrepair and was demolished in 2013, contains memorials to the victims of the Blitz in the Second World War. Many bodies from the churchyard of St Mary’s Chuch, which was bombed in the war, were exhumed and re-interred in Bootle Cemetery.

The opening of Thornton Garden of Rest was delayed by public inquiries, meaning that some of the earliest interments there on completion during wartime in 1940 were servicemen. The war meant that the chapel there was not completed until 1963.

Over 40,000 plots are available for purchase at the four Sefton cemeteries. These can accommodate up to four regular burials and six sets of cremated remains. Further details on purchasing a grave are available here.

Smaller plots solely for cremated remains are available at Liverpool Road and Thornton Garden of Rest. Thornton where one of Sefton’s two crematoria are situated. The other, Southport Crematorium, is on the A570 at Scarisbrick. Both crematoria have offices and a Book of Remembrance.

There are restrictions on memorial sizes at the Sefton cemeteries. However, unlike many other cemeteries, Thornton Garden of Rest continues to allow kerb sets.

Sarsfield Memorials works carries out work in all of the Sefton cemeteries. If you are interested in purchasing a memorial for a grave, or renovating an existing one, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your requirements.

 

Headstone Lettering

Once you have chosen an inscription for your memorial, you then need to decide what form the headstone lettering will take. There are traditional and modern technological options available, with the choice you make very much dependent on the material of the headstone.

guilded lettering on gravestone

Headstone lettering has the potential to last for decades or even centuries. However there are a number of factors effecting it, including what material your memorial is made from. It can be swings and roundabouts in many ways as it depends on your overall requirements. Letters will likely last longer on more durable materials such as granite, but softer materials like sandstone and limestone allow more flexibility when it comes to shaping them.

Other factors to take into account are plantation, local weather conditions and pollution. Grass and leaves rot and during this process produce chemicals that can damage the natural stone. If your memorial is made of a porous material, letters are much more prone to damage if weather is persistently wet or frosts are regular in winter. Moisture can get get behind the letters due to the crystallisation of the marble and it cause letters to lift or fall out over time.

 

For painted letters depending, on the material the paint can lift and fall away, or can just fade or discolour. As with everything left outside it will always require a certain amount of maintenance. When it comes to restoring headstone lettering, there is a temptation to buy paints online but we do not recommend this. If not primed properly, then the paint has the tendency to flake.

Sarsfield Memorials uses both traditional and modern methods when it comes to headstone lettering. On softer materials we often hand cut the lettering, especially when working on restoring older headstones, which is not something that all masons can offer. We will use machinery at other times though to v-cut the letters. For the hardest materials a sandblaster is used. This means we can give you a choice of over one hundred fonts. Often families will take our advice and expertise when it comes to style, size and finish of lettering. Once the letters have been cut, they are finished in your desired or a more traditional choice.

Raised lead lettering involves drilling small holes into the material for the letters to be adjoined to the headstone. This is an alternative and perhaps more traditional option for light granite than sandblasting. This form of lettering is very time consuming and it will reflect in the price, so is not often used today.

At Sarsfield Memorials we are happy to discuss your requirements for headstone lettering  whether it be for a new memorial or as part of a restoration. Please contact us and we will provide as much advice and assistance as possible and you are under no obligation to take up any quote offered.

 

Marble Statues For Headstones

Marble statues are an ideal complement to your loved one’s memorial. They can add peace and tranquility, yet still reflect their character in ways photoplaque images may be unable to.

marble statues

Made out of strong material that doesn’t succumb to inclement weather so easily, marble statues enhance a memorial for a long time. They are usually, but not always, religious in theme. Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary and angels are common, as are cherubs for children’s graves. Statues that are praying reflect the deceased being looked after in the next life, while wings signify the onward journey to Heaven.

Sometimes marble statues may be of a religious character but actually have a different meaning. Doves for example can reflect the Holy Spirit but also affection and devotion. The Virgin Mary may just reflect a mother mourning her son or daughter. Statues of saints could actually indicate a profession, such as with John the Baptist who is the patron saint of builders. Secular examples of marble statues included animals and teddy bears.

White marble statues can be added to darker coloured memorials and provide an excellent contrast between sorrow and hope. They may be affixed permanently to the top or base of the memorial, or instead free standing or as part of a kerbset. They come in all sizes, with some being just four or five inches high and weighing less than a kilo. This means they needn’t be beyond your budget. You must take into account local authority regulations for cemeteries and also bare in mind that they are unlikely to be allowed in churchyards.

Sarsfield Memorials, Merseyside’s longest running family owned monumental mason business, have a range of marble statues available. If you are interested in having one as part of a new memorial, or adding on to an existing grave, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your requirements and give guidance with no obligation.