Chancellor warns new diocese on strict compliance with ecclesiastical law, priest; PCC censured for disregard of faculty provisions; unsatisfactory “Heath Robinson” measures introduced under archdeacon’s licence; and new lighting schemes for two cathedrals
Relatively few judgments and determinations have been announced this month. However, on 16 September the Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, answered a written question from Mark Hendrick MP about regulations relating to churchyards in Blackburn Diocese: “which Church of England dioceses have published regulations on monuments on burial plots and inscriptions on gravestones; which dioceses (a) allow and (b) do not allow nicknames on gravestones; which dioceses allow monuments; which dioceses (i ) allow and (ii) do not allow pictorial etchings on gravestones; and which dioceses (A) allow and (B) do not allow freestanding containers on burial plots, ”.
Mrs Spelman informed Mr Hendrick that the information requested is not held centrally, and while there is central guidance available, each Diocese and Parish applies the regulations to their local circumstances. In relation to their local application, he was directed to the Diocesan Registrar for Blackburn and to the Diocesan guide to the churchyard regulations, [page 4].
Had such a request been made under the Freedom of Information Act, it is likely that it would have been refused on the grounds that dealing with it would have cost too much and/or taken too much staff time. However, the inquiry does raise the question of why it is necessary for each of the Church’s 40 UK dioceses to produce its own version of the central guidance “to suit local circumstances”, when such issues are more likely to be relevant at parish rather than diocesan level. Continue reading