Suffolk vicar wins court battle after removal of gravestone trinkets


Vicar wins court docket battle towards parishioners after tensions ‘boiled over’ when he eliminated unauthorised toys and trinkets from graves

  • The row over mementoes concerned St Edmund’s Church in Kessingland, Suffolk 
  • Eliminated gadgets could be destroyed if not collected throughout lockdown final Could 
  • Church choose mentioned the removals have been in step with churchyard rules
  • One parishioner mentioned the churchyard rules ‘smack of snobbism’ 

A vicar has received a court docket battle towards parishioners after tensions ‘boiled over’ when he eliminated unauthorised toys and trinkets from graves, a church choose has mentioned.  

The rector and churchwardens of St Edmund’s Church in Kessingland, Suffolk, determined to take away what they are saying are unauthorised gadgets from the churchyard final 12 months.

Objects have been eliminated and positioned in crates, to be disposed of if not collected, throughout lockdown final Could.

Parishioners mentioned earlier rectors had allowed mementoes to be left, however church choose David Etherington QC mentioned that their removing was in step with churchyard rules.

He mentioned present rules which apply on the Church of England churchyard state: ‘For the avoidance of doubt the next gadgets will not be permitted… Mementoes and objects similar to statues, toys, wind chimes, windmills, images and candles.

‘Such gadgets have to be eliminated by the incumbent or churchwardens who might, at their discretion, enable such articles to stay on new graves for a interval of as much as 13 months.’ 

Pictured: St Edmund's Church in Kessingland, Suffolk, where a row broke out over the vicar removing mementoes left of graves during the first coronavirus lockdown in May

Pictured: St Edmund’s Church in Kessingland, Suffolk, the place a row broke out over the vicar eradicating mementoes left of graves throughout the first coronavirus lockdown in Could

He mentioned that the rector, Rev Mandy Bishop, by no means sought to dispose of things with out first searching for to inform a member of the household or leaving a notice on the grave if that was not attainable.

She had not but disposed of something, he mentioned.

Writing in a consistory court docket judgement, Mr Etherington mentioned: ‘I can see how this all boiled up, and certainly boiled over, and I’ve some sympathy for each side.’

One parishioner mentioned the churchyard rules ‘smack of snobbism’ and one other mentioned the choice to take away gadgets amid a ‘disruptive and tough’ pandemic was ‘exhausting to know’.

Greater than 40 folks lodged objections with the Church of England.

Mr Etherington wrote that there was a ‘sturdy sense’ that parishioners have been ‘insufficiently consulted about what was going to occur, which clearly was a significant departure from earlier observe and at a time of lockdown’.

He mentioned the actions of the rector and churchwardens have been ‘lawful and certainly required of them by the Churchyard Laws’.

He inspired each side to finish their feud however sided with the rector and mentioned churchyard rules ought to be adopted.

Mr Etherington granted an additional 12 months for gadgets to be collected, after which they are often disposed of.

He mentioned he may perceive why a rector ‘would possibly want to flip a blind eye’ to mementoes being left within the graveyard in breach of rules, however that ‘ultimately it’s not a kindness’.

‘Eventually, it’s doubtless that the rules will likely be utilized correctly and the frustration and upset to these affected is more likely to be all of the higher, as is the case right here,’ he mentioned.

A spokesman for the Church of England mentioned: ‘Churchyard rules are set in every diocese to make sure that the character of churchyards is upheld to the advantage of all, recognising that discussions surrounding memorials will be very emotional.

‘Laws element the supplies which can be utilized for monuments, in addition to outlining what further ornament and ornamentation is permitted.

‘You will need to test the native pointers on the diocesan web site earlier than putting in or making modifications to monuments to keep away from pointless expense and upheaval.

‘Laws are there to help these planning memorials, and likewise volunteers and clergy who take care of churchyards, recognising the necessity to steadiness particular person needs with the broader wants of all who go to churchyards.’


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