Churchyard Memorials in the Diocese of Liverpool

Although most burials take place in cemeteries nowadays they are still permitted in churchyards if the deceased lived or died in the parish. There are restrictions however on memorial sizes, types, inscriptions and what can be placed on graves.

The Diocese of Liverpool has issued guidance for clergy and churchwardens on how to follow their regulations, but they do allow a certain amount of discretion depending on the circumstances of individual parishes. Unsurprisingly there are strict rules on who can carry out work in churchyards and all masons must comply with the NAMM (National Association of Memorial Masons) code and British Standard 8415.


It is unlikely that clergy will allow highly polished memorials in a churchyard where most of the surrounding gravestones are old and weathered. As such the material used for churchyard memorials should be sensitive to its surroundings. Headstones must be no more than three feet six inches high and the width depends on how much space there is between graves. The memorial must be a simple vertical design, with curved tops preferred but rectangular shaped headstones are acceptable. It is now common for gravestones in cemeteries to have photographs of the deceased but the Diocese do not encourage these so few vicars will allow them.

There are strict rules on grave surrounds and ornamentation, with safety in churchyards being paramount. Kerbsets, chains and railings are not allowed as they can be a tripping hazard and also impede access to another grave. Gravel chippings can damage grass cutting equipment and are also not permitted. The Diocese also instructs clergy to ensure that all ornamentation such as vases is placed on the memorial plinth to aid with grass cutting.

Churchyards now allow the burial of cremated remains, with the memorial size being restricted to two feet by eighteen inches high if vertical. Alternatively horizontal memorials are allowed, measuring up to 21 inches by 21 inches.

When it comes to inscriptions, a spiritual approach is preferred but reference to the deceased being a relative of named persons is allowed. Overly long inscriptions are not encouraged so as to ensure enough space is left on the headstone for future interments.

On the whole, churchyard regulations are much stricter than in local authority cemeteries but some vicars who are more lenient than others. Generally speaking Often, a new vicar will simply follow a precedent set by those in the role before them but you cannot guarantee this will be the case. Before deciding on a memorial, it is best to speak to the vicar or a mason who can give you guidance on what they will allow. This means you can have an idea of what type of memorial and ornamentation you can place there.

As a monumental mason that has been in existence for over sixty years spanning three generations, Sarsfield Memorials has plenty of experience working in the Diocese of Liverpool with local clergy. We are sensitive to your needs and can take care of all the administration and form filling that is required on your behalf. If you would like to discuss the erection of a memorial in a churchyard, or the repair or replacement of an existing one, please contact us to discuss your requirements and a free no obligation quote.