On 16 June 2021 the Court of Arches handed down its reserved judgment Re St Giles Exhall  EACC 1 on which we posted a Case Note. This appeal was prompted by the decision in Re St Giles, Exhall  ECC Cov 1, where permission was denied for a faculty for a memorial stone to include the words “Inár gcroíthe go deo”: Irish Gaelic for “in our hearts forever”. In its judgment, the Arches Court considered the factors that Chancellors should take into account and apply in relation to schemes of delegation (a.k.a. “Churchyard Regulations”), and when determining faculty petitions concerning inscriptions in languages other than English.
Our post Churchyard Regulations after Exhall (21 July 2021) reviewed the Arches Court judgment and also other examples of the application of Churchyard Regulations considered in L&RUK Case Notes. The Arches Court’s judgment included observations on Churchyard Regulations, and provided general assistance to chancellors, clergy and others and more specific guidance in relation to written inscriptions.
This merits-based approach, on which the Arches Court cited Re St. John the Baptist Adel and St. Michael Markington  ECC Lee 8, has been applied subsequently in Re All Saints Darton  ECC Lee 6, in which the Worshipful Mark Hill KC granted a faculty to authorise kerbs to be placed around a grave, the installation of which was outwith the diocesan churchyards regulations.
Diocese of Coventry
Following the judgment of the Arches Court, then Bishop of Coventry, the Rt Revd Dr Christopher Cocksworth initiated an internal inquiry into the case, led by the Revd Canon Dr Mark Bratton. The ‘Review by the Diocese of Coventry in relation to the headstone of the late Margaret Keane’ (“the Bratton Report”) was completed in March 2023 and has been published on the diocesan website.
In light of both the Keane family’s experience and the Bratton Report’s recommendations, a Churchyard Task Group was formed to significantly improve guidance for bereaved families, together with guidelines for best practice for clergy in relation to memorials in churchyards and faculty procedures. The new guidance on churchyards and gardens of remembrance issued by the Chancellor is available on the diocesan web page Memorials in Churchyards in addition to shorter Summary Notes for Clergy, Guidance for bereaved families, and links to other related and procedural matters.
The eleven Findings and Recommendations are at pages 27 to 31 of the Bratton Report, and the Recommendations are repeated at pages 35 to 38. Whilst the Arches Court’s determination is generally applicable to the Church of England’s consistory courts, the Bratton Report and associated material described above are directed at the Diocese of Coventry.
With thanks to Richard Huss for bringing these recommendations to the Diocesan Churchyard Regulations to our attention.