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Reserving a Grave Space/Cremation Plot

It is possible to apply for a Faculty to reserve a grave space or cremation plot in a churchyard.

Any parties interested in making an application should discuss this with the Incumbent and PCC first.

Reservations can be requested for a single or double depth plot for close family members.  There are additional guidance notes to help with applications, and these and the Faculty application form are available from the Diocesan Registry Clerk, or click on the links below.

A Faculty application fee is payable on submission of the application.  The current fee for 2024 is £327.40 and is prescribed by statute “The Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and Others (Fees) Order”, updated in January each year. 

Unless there are exceptional circumstances, a reservation will not normally be granted to anyone who is under 50 years of age, and the reservation will last for a maximum of 30 years. This is to avoid blocking spaces in churchyards for unduly long periods of time. However, where there is space in the churchyard for less than 30 years’ worth of anticipated burials, any Faculty is likely to be limited to a shorter period, to match the expected capacity of the churchyard. So if there is only room for ten years’ worth of burials/interments, any reservation is likely to be limited to just ten years, unless there are exceptional circumstances justifying a departure from this policy.  Generally the Chancellor is not keen to grant a reservation where there is less than 15 years of available space in the churchyard.

Where limited space in the churchyard means that a reservation is granted for a period of less than 30 years, it is possible for applicants to offer reasons to explain why their particular circumstances might justify a grant of a reservation for the full 30 years. However, where this means that a considered Judgement is needed from the Chancellor, an additional fee may be incurred.

The application will need to be supported by the Incumbent, Churchwarden(s) and the Parochial Church Council (PCC).  Anyone wishing to reserve a space in a churchyard should first discuss the proposed reservation with the Incumbent and/or one of the Churchwardens to see whether space is available and if they would agree to a reservation being made.  The PCC will want to consider the rate at which the churchyard is filling up, and how many spaces remain available; and therefore whether it is appropriate to set aside a space or spaces for reservation. The PCC is under no obligation to support a proposed reservation, and may wish to be cautious about support for reservations when space is limited.

On submission of the Petition to the Diocesan Registry, the Registrar will direct that Public Notices are published at the church, to give notice of the application to other parishioners and an opportunity for any objections. The Notices have to be displayed for 28 days. If no notices of objection are received by the Registrar within that time, the application will be submitted to the Chancellor.

An additional fee may be payable to the Parochial Church Council when applying for a reservation, to contribute toward future maintenance of the reserved plot.

Where, for example, close family members such as a husband and wife desire to be buried together, they may either

(a) Make one application for them both to be buried in the same plot, in which case only one set of fees is payable; or

(b) Make separate applications for the reservation of two adjoining grave spaces, in which case two separate Petitions with two sets of application fees would be required.

Making an Application

When submitting an application to reserve a grave space or cremation plot to the Diocesan Registry, the following will be required:

  • Payment of the Faculty application fee of £327.40 (payable to Birketts LLP)
  • The Petition form fully completed and signed by the applicant(s)

The following information is also required, but can follow at a later date:

  • The written consent of the Incumbent and Churchwarden(s) to the proposed reservation (where there is no Incumbent the Rural Dean must be consulted);
  • A signed Resolution of the PCC confirming its approval of the proposal;
  • A churchyard plan showing the precise location (preferably with a plot/row number) and size of the plot to be reserved (usually 6x3ft for a grave space, or 1x1ft for a cremation plot), and the name of whose memorial the plot is next to if applicable;
  • An estimate from either the incumbent or churchwardens as to the amount of available space in the churchyard in years (total number of available plots divided by average number of burials per year).

Please follow the links below for the Petition (Faculty application form) and guidance notes, or contact the Diocesan Registry Clerk and these can be emailed or posted to you.

For further information please contact Joanna Pelan, Registry Clerk: Joanna-Pelan@birketts.co.uk