Like the church building and its contents, any significant work in the churchyard requires a faculty.


The Chancellor often delegates authority to allow new memorials (headstones or plaques) to the minister, within certain guidelines, by means of the diocesan Churchyard Memorial Regulations 2018 (see below). These Regulations, approved by the Chancellor after consultation with the DAC, aim to ensure that any new memorials respect their surroundings, harmonise with existing memorials, and enhance the character of the church or churchyard in question. Sometimes they arise from the resolution of past difficulties. Observing them promotes consistency of approach in a churchyard. Every significant work not covered by these regulations, or any memorials which do not comply with them, will require a faculty.


For information on how to care for churchyard memorials and monuments including repairs, cleaning, condition surveys and risk assessments please see the detailed guidance on the Historic England website page Caring for Historic Cemetery and Graveyard Monuments.


The reservation of a space for the burial of a body or cremated remains requires a faculty, obtained from the Diocesan Registry. Application forms and details of fees can be found on their webpage here:


The maintenance of the churchyard may also be affected by secular jurisdiction. Planning permission should be obtained for any new building work, work involving drainage, landscaping, the laying or altering of paths etc.


For information on how to look after churchyard trees, please see the guidance notes at the bottom of this page. If you looking for an accredited arboriculturalist, you will find the Arboricultural Association's Approved Contractor Directory helpful:

Any works involving trees will also need local authority permission if the tree is subject to a Tree Preservation Order or is in a Conservation Area.


Any work with archaeological implications, such as digging drains, repairing monuments or tree removal, will require careful consideration and an Archaeological Watching Brief (AWB) may be required as a condition of any consent given for the works.

If any part of the church or churchyard is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, whether above or below ground, then the appropriate consent should be sought before any work commences. You can search for SAMs on the National Heritage List for England HERE.

The national archaeological standard for memorial recording produced by the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) can be found on the Discovering England's Burial Spaces website:

Trench Arch Drainage Systems

Trench arch drainage systems may be introduced into rural churchyards as a possible solution for churches wishing to install WC and kitchen facilities where suitable mains drainage does not exist. Such a system will always require faculty permission.

You should seek your church architect's advice as to whether or not such a system would be an appropriate solution for your church. You will need to consider:

  • the amount of land required
  • the effect of such a system on existing graves
  • the effect that such a system may have on the space available for future burials
  • whether the system is strong enough to withstand the passage over it of vehicular traffic (especially if the system lies under roads, tracks or paths)
  • whether an archaeological watching brief is required.

A report by Oxford Archaeology South for Historic England 'Assessing the Impact of Trench Arch Drainage Systems on Archaeological Remains in Churchyards' (August 2016) contains a useful summary of Historic England's recommendations on the installation of new trench arch drainage systems. You can find it HERE.


Other statutory protection measures which may affect a churchyard include the designation as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), which may prohibit certain site-specific operations.


Caring for God's Acre

[Page updated 27th March 2023]