Churchyard Rules & Regulations


Applicable to the Church Burial Ground in Common Lane, Welton

Common Lane Burial Ground is owned by St. Helen’s Church and is covered by the laws and regulations which apply to all churchyards. A churchyard or burial ground is consecrated ground and it is hoped it will be respected by those who visit and by the community. The burial ground is also a public space and, as such, anything which is added to it must be acceptable to the wider community and must not cause offence.  Rules and regulations change over time (an example of this can be seen in the changing style and materials used for memorial stones over the years) and this brief guide is intended to provide an overview of the current position. It is hoped it will be helpful.

A Summary of the rules set out by law.

Maintenance of Graves

The church is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the Burial Ground. New graves and re-opened graves will suffer from settlement for a few months after an interment. If necessary, the gravediggers will, from time to time, ‘top up’ these graves with fresh topsoil until they become level with the surrounding ground. This settlement is a natural process due to the nature of the soil.  Once the settlement is complete, the grass will be allowed to grow and the churchyard maintenance staff will mow the grass on a regular basis throughout the summer months.

Memorial Stones

Please contact a reputable monumental mason, who will be aware of the York Diocesan guidelines for churchyards. They will advise you on suitable inscriptions and the fees payable. They will also assist you in applying for permission to erect the memorial from the Vicar or, in rare cases, from the Chancellor of the Diocese. A minimum of six months should elapse between the burial and erection of the headstone. This gives time for the ground to settle and reduces the likelihood of the headstone leaning in the future. Once the stone is in place, it becomes your responsibility to maintain the stone. If the stone starts to lean, please contact the stonemason and ask for it to be corrected. In no circumstances should anyone other than a qualified stonemason carry out this work as the stones are very heavy. Headstones may incorporate a flower holder within the base, in line with current Churchyard Rules and the stonemason will be able to advise on this. Kerbstones and chippings are not allowed.

In the area set aside for the interment of ashes, stone tablets may be laid flush with the ground. The stonemason will advise you on what is allowed and will assist you in applying for permission to place the stone.


Wreaths and flowers may be left on a grave but must be removed when withered. Bins are provided for this purpose. If you wish to have a container in which flowers may stand in water, the design of the memorial may include an integral flower holder – this should be specified on the initial application. Where there is no integral flower holder, a removable container must be recessed completely into the ground, so that when not in use there is no obstruction to churchyard maintenance. Normally, a maximum of two flower receptacles is allowed. Spring bulbs may be planted in the soil of any grave, but not cultivated flowers or shrubs of any kind. In the area set aside for interment of ashes, normally only one flower receptacle is allowed, due to the smaller space available, and this must be completely recessed into the ground or an integral part of the memorial.  Containers should be made of metal or plastic and under no circumstances should glass or other breakable material be used. Freestanding containers are not allowed.

Christmas and Easter wreaths and Remembrance Day poppies may be placed on a grave but must be removed after 2 months. Silk flowers are allowed but should be seasonal and removed when they become faded, dirty, dishevelled or discoloured.  No other artificial flowers, are allowed.

Pictures and Statues

No pictures, photographs, portraits or statuaries (artefacts such as toys or statues) are allowed.

If you wish to see a full set of the Rules and Regulations Concerning Churchyards, or require advice on any matter regarding the burial ground, please contact the Vicar.

Revd Canon Elaine Bielby, Telephone 666677. September 2014.