Our Church yards are precious places. And they are precious, not only because the remains of our loved ones are buried there, but also because they embody the history of their communties. That means of course the everything in our churchyards, from the memorial stones to the trees and shrubs should be a matter for care and consideration. It is with this in mind that the Diocese of Chichester has set out guidelines for the care and upkeep of churchyards, so that they may be maintained appropriately throughout the year. Churchyards are places of peace and this should be respected. The Church yards at St.Peter’s Church, Henfield and St. Giles’ Shermanbury have been closed for over 100 years, although burials in Henfield occur in the public cemetery opposite the entrance to Church Lane. The internment of ashes in Henfield Churchyard is still possible, do contact the Church office for more information. Burials in Shermanbury occur in the small cemetery in Frylands Lane, Wineham. Please follow these links for enquiries or information about both those cemeterys . https://www.henfield.gov.uk/cemetery https://shermanburyparishcouncil.co.uk/the-cemetery/

The Churchyard at Woodmancote remains open for burials and the policy regarding burials, and the criteria for monuments is shown below. For more information to or enquire about a burial or an internment of ashes please contact the  Parish Administrator Nicki Jones, on 01273 495532 | admin@henfield.org

Churchyard Policy for St Peter’s Church, Woodmancote


Space in Woodmancote churchyard is limited. Therefore, only residents of the parish or members of the church electoral roll have an automatic legal right to burial. Burials will also normally be agreed for anyone who has lived in the parish for a significant period (25% of their life), or for people who were resident in the parish prior to entering residential care. The Rector’s decision in such cases is final. The fee for burial in the churchyard is charged within an invoice from the Funeral Director.

The burial of cremated remains requires less space and is covered separately below.

There is no right to choose a particular plot for burial. It may be possible in exceptional circumstances to reserve a grave plot by faculty application to the Chancellor of the Diocese.  If you wish to apply for such a faculty then please speak to the Rector, or the Church Office, who will advise you of what the procedure is.  You need to be aware that each application is considered on its own merits, and that the Chancellor of the Diocese may decide to refuse such an application.


There is no automatic right in English law to erect any monument, and indeed few graves were marked prior to the nineteenth century.  Permission must be sought from the Rector for any memorial or headstone prior to its erection.  This can be done via a Funeral Director or Monumental Mason.  Provided the proposed monument meets certain criteria, the Rector is free to grant permission.  These criteria specify the size and appearance of any monument, the materials from which it is made, as well as the inscription that would be permitted. 

If a proposed monument falls outside Diocesan guidelines, then the Rector does not have the authority to permit it to be erected.  If you wish to erect a monument that does not meet the criteria then you will need to apply for a faculty from the Chancellor of the Diocese, and advice on the procedure should be sought from the Rector or the Church Office. In these cases a separate fee to the Chancellor of the Diocese is pyable.  Applicants need to be aware that each application is considered on its own merits and that the Chancellor of the Diocese may refuse such an application.

The 2024 statutory fee for the introduction of a memorial stone is £167. The fee for an additional inscription on an exisiting memorial is £35. 

For the avoidance of doubt, the following are not permitted:

i. kerbs, railings, fencing or chippings;

ii. memorials in the shape of vases, hearts, open books;

iii. memorials incorporating photographs or portraits;

iv. mementoes, windmills, toys or little animals;

v. the use of ‘pet names’

vi. artificial flowers.

vii. the planting of trees or shrubs in preference to a memorial stone.

Care of graves

The Church endeavours to maintain the churchyard in a tidy and presentable manner. However, some areas may be left to grow wild, to encourage biodiversity. The best way to care for a grave is to grass it over. Then it is easy to maintain and will be cut by the churchyard maintenance team.

Families are welcome to place natural flowers on a grave, but plastic flowers are not permitted, neither are toys, statues, candles, pots or vases.   For the avoidance of doubt the following applies.

  1. Bulbs and small annual plants may be placed in the soil of any grave;
  2. Plants or cut flowers may be placed in a removable sunken container (preferably of unpolished aluminium) in the soil of any grave;
  3. Wreaths and cut flowers placed on graves and plants and flowers in containers may be removed, when withered, by those authorised to do so by the incumbent;
  4. No artificial flowers or foliage may be placed on or about graves (except for Remembrance Day poppies) and, if so placed, will be removed.
  5. Other objects, including railings, chippings, statues, keepsakes, toys, and other mementoes including candles, pots or vases are not permitted on a grave without authorisation by faculty.

Cremated remains

Ashes may be buried within the designated plot within the churchyard, which is marked by a plaque on the churchyard wall.  Ashes may not be buried in a container of any description. Ashes are to be poured into the ground, from the container in which they are brought to the burial site, by the minister committing them to the earth and then covered with soil. The place of interment shall not be marked by any memorial or otherwise

Ashes may also be buried in an existing grave space where there is a connection between the deceased and those already buried in the grave.  The consent of the family of those already buried must also have been obtained.

It is possible to bury more than one set of cremated remains in a plot as long as this is indicated prior to the first burial and sufficient space therefore allowed.

There is a memorial book in which details of a loved one may be recorded once their remains have been buried within the churchyard.  The 2024 statutory  fee for the interment of ashes is £192

Benches and other items

We have been fortunate to have had a number of benches donated to our churchyards. These provide valuable places for reflection and prayer. No further benches are now needed.

Criteria for the approval of memorials

(i)       Size

No more than 4ft nor less than 2ft 6in high (1200mm, 750mm);

No more than 3ft nor less than 1ft 8in wide (900mm, 500mm);

No more than 6in nor less than 3in thick (150mm, 75mm), unless slate is to be used in which case a thickness of 2in (50mm) is permitted;

In the case of infant burials, headstones must be no less than 2ft x 1ft 3in x 2in (600mm x 375mm x 50mm).

A base forming an integral part of the design of a headstone may be included, provided it does not project more than 2in (50mm) beyond the headstone in any direction and provided that it is fixed on a foundation slab of an approved material which itself is fixed flush with the ground and extending 3in to 5in (75mm to 125mm) all round so that a mower may freely pass over it.

Up to two integral sockets for flower vases are permitted in bases, in which case the base shall be of the following dimensions.

           Height (from ground)             3ins (min) to 6 ins (max)

           Width                                              2ft (min) to 3 ft (max)

           Depth                                             10 ins (min) to 1ft (max)

(ii)      Materials

The following stone is permitted:

Limestone:     Portland                             Hornton

                    Purbeck or Horsham           Nabresina

                    Derbyshire                         Caen/Normandy

                    Hopton Wood                      Aura/Aurisina

Sandstone:     York

Slate:             Blue/Black (Cornish)            Green (Westmoreland)

                         Grey/Blue (Welsh)    

Granite:         Light to medium grey

(iii)     Position

No memorial may be erected within 5 yards (4.57 metres) of the outer wall of the church building save by authority of a faculty.

(iv)     Appearance

Polished stone or mirror finish is not permitted. Coloured lettering is not permitted save as follows:

  • Nabresina limestone may have the lettering picked out in contrasting matt;
  • Slate may have the lettering picked out in off-white matt;
  • Granite may have the lettering picked out in off white matt.

(v)      Inscriptions

Incumbents should require an accurate design of the proposed inscription before approving an application. Photographs or representations of objects or motifs such as a child’s toy are not permitted nor the use of ‘pet names’. Bronze or ceramic inserts are not to be used. Badges, crests or emblems may be used provided they are seemly and appropriate for the deceased. Any representation will need to be designed so that it may be accurately cut by a skilled craftsman.  Masons’ or carpenters’ names, signs or marks may be inscribed on any monument provided their position and appearance are unobtrusive having regard to the monument as a whole.

(vi)     Fixture

Regard must be had to health and safety concerns, and to current industry standards for the fixing of monuments safely and securely.


(i)       Size

Either flush with the turf or raised not more than 9in (225mm) above a base, extending not less than 3in (75mm) all round and itself flush with the turf; inclusive measurements not more than 7ft (2100 mm) by 3ft (900mm).

For the materials, position, appearance of the ledger, and what inscriptions are permitted please see above.


An incumbent may NOT consent to the introduction of a cross, for crosses have been too freely used in burial grounds in the past. Such monuments require a high standard of design. However, the incumbent may authorise the temporary introduction of a simple wooden cross to mark a recent burial. A brass plaque bearing the name and dates of the deceased may be affixed to the cross. Such cross must be removed upon the erection of a stone memorial or after a period of 18 months, whichever be the sooner.


For the avoidance of doubt, the following are not permitted:

i. kerbs, railings, fencing or chippings;

ii. memorials in the shape of vases, hearts, open books;

iii. memorials incorporating photographs or portraits;

iv. mementoes, windmills, toys or little animals;

v. the use of ‘pet names’

vi. artificial flowers.


The Rector has no authority to permit the erection of a memorial which does not comply with these criteria. Any memorial which does not comply with these criteria (whether or not the Rector has purported to give his authority) may be removed by order of the consistory court.