Headstone Etiquette in the UK

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Following the death of a loved one there are many things that need to be considered, planned, and sorted.

If your lost loved one was a close relative or dear friend, you may be a part of the processes that involve funeral planning, probate arrangements, and ensuring that all wishes are carried out in accordance with their will.

Choosing a headstone for their grave to honour their life may soon become a part of those arrangements and making sure it complies with headstone etiquette and rules within the UK can seem a daunting task.

Here at W.S. Moore Memorial Masons, we have been crafting high quality headstones in Newport for over 100 years, with the business having been founded in 1920.

Our wealth of memorial expertise has provided us with the knowledge required to fully understand headstone etiquette and what is considered acceptable in burial grounds – particularly for cemeteries and church graveyards that are located in Newport, South Wales, and surrounding areas.

Securing a grave for your loved one

The process of securing an area of land for a person to be suitably buried is often taken care of during the funeral service arrangements.

Any funeral company that you instruct can guide you through this process while also taking responsibility of handling remains and conducting a funeral service in accordance with you and the wishes of your loved one.

The funeral company you use will be able to offer their expert advice on exactly what needs to be done and what your options are with regards to the burial plot location, and once the burial plot has been chosen and secured, you or whoever is to be named as the registered grave owner will receive a Deed of Grant.

Once the funeral ceremony and burial has taken place, you will then be able to decide in your own time when you feel ready and prepared to begin considering headstone options that may be most suitable for the resting place.

Burial plots in a cemetery

Do I own the grave forever?

When somebody purchases a burial plot within a cemetery or other burial ground, the land is leased rather than bought, meaning exclusive ownership belongs to that person – or other nominated parties – throughout the duration of the lease and for as long as the Deed of Grant is valid.

Most burial plot leases run for a period of anywhere between 25 to 100 years.

When can I install a headstone on a grave?

In the UK, most cemeteries will request that you wait a minimum of six months after the burial before installing a headstone on the grave. Some will even request a year or even longer.

This is because the ground needs an adequate amount of time to settle properly to reduce the chances of problems later down the line. If the ground hasn’t correctly settled when you have the headstone installed, you run the risk of the headstone sinking into the ground.

Soil and the general environment differ from place to place, so check with your burial ground to ensure you wait the correct amount of time.

A headstone on a grave

Are there rules to what you can put on a headstone?

Headstone rules in cemeteries

The etiquette related to what you can put on a headstone mostly comes down to the rules and restrictions that are in place at your particular cemetery. Generally, there doesn’t tend to be too many things forbidden across the board other than the use of offensive or defamatory statements or images.

Some cemeteries do have their own rules in place with regards to the actual headstone memorial type you can choose, or the stone colours that you’re allowed and decoration that can be added on or around the grave.

This is why choosing a local memorial stonemason with expert knowledge of local cemeteries can be so valuable as they will be aware of the current rules and restrictions.

For example, when it comes to local cemeteries in Newport, we at Wilson Moore can offer our expert advice on the use of memorial vases, photo plaques, and other general grave ornaments that you may want to decorate the grave with at your chosen burial site.

Headstone rules in churchyards

Things can often be a little stricter in churchyards.

For example, wording of inscriptions may be closely scrutinised and what is permitted will be at the discretion of each individual parish priest at the church as they are bound by the Diocese Churchyard Regulations.

There have been many cases in the past that have involved vicars objecting to certain wordings on the gravestone inscription, such as not allowing the use of kisses (x’s) or insisting on nicknames to be used with inverted commas to signify them as such – or forbidding them entirely.

You will find that many dioceses even have their own specific guidance outlining what wording is acceptable to use. An example would be the Diocese of Oxfordshire, which suggests that:

“Inscriptions must be simple, reverent and theologically acceptable; they may include appropriate quotations from the Scriptures or literary sources.”

The word remember engraved into stone

Looking for memorial stonemasons in Newport?

If you’re looking for expert memorial masons in Newport or surrounding areas of South Wales, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team of family advisors. We can advise on all aspects of designing and installing a gravestone or other memorial so that you can honour your loved one just as you see fit.

Contact us today and book in your consultation by calling 01633 855902, e-mailing info@wsmoore.co.uk or through our simple online booking form.

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