We recognize how important it is for people to have a place in which they can mourn someone they have loved. It is natural for people to want to make the grave of their loved one special and personal.
However, the churchyard is a public space which is used by many other people, including other mourners. We need to make sure, therefore, that graves are tended in ways that are acceptable to everyone, and that they fit in with their surroundings. It is also important that the churchyard is safe for the people who use it, and that, as a valuable habitat for wildlife, we do all we can to look after the animals and plants that live in it too.
The Churchyard Regulations published by the Diocese of Chelmsford (see attachment below this article) are available from the Rector, or in Chipping Ongar Library, give clear guidance about how graves are to be cared for. These rules apply whether or not you have put up a gravestone, so everyone needs to be aware of them. The most important rules are:
You must not put loose vases, pots, candle-holders, lights or any other ornament on a grave. They can easily be knocked over and broken, leaving glass or pottery shards in the grass which might hurt other visitors. They are also an invitation to vandals. Vases must be completely sunk into the ground and can only be put in the churchyard with permission from the Rector.
Grass should be allowed to grow over the grave. You may plant a few bulbs or SMALL plants in the grass on a grave, but not shrubs or trees. Please check how big your plants might eventually grow before you plant them! If they get too big, the PCC (church council) may remove them in order to mow over the grave.
You must not put fences or edging of any sort around a grave or put chippings on it. They make it difficult to maintain the churchyard neatly.
You must not place artificial flowers, cards, windmills or wind-chimes on a grave. These soon get dirty and faded when left in the open, and spoil the beauty of the churchyard for other mourners.
You must remove the plastic wrapping around flowers if you lay them on a grave. Plastic wrappers not only create litter, but can be dangerous to wildlife.
These rules apply to everyone tending a grave in the churchyard. The PCC (church council) has the right to remove anything which contravenes them. You may see other graves where people don’t seem to be abiding by these rules – please don’t assume that this means that you can disregard them too. It may simply be that we have been unable to speak to the family who care for that grave yet. We all need to work together to keep the Churchyard looking beautiful for everyoe and we appreciate your co-operation in this.