St John’s Churchyard is a special place, a place of great beauty and historical value and a tranquil place for quiet reflection. However, on his last visit, the Archdeacon of Surrey found that the churchyard at St John’s was not conforming to the churchyard regulations and has instructed the Joint Rectors, the Reverends Alan and Lesley Crawley, to rectify this. They have written to the next of kin of all the people buried in the churchyard in the last three years, explaining the situation. However, they do not have the contact details of everyone who has been buried at St John’s.
The rules are much stricter in churchyards than cemeteries, for instance balloons, lights and statues are not permitted. The family of the deceased bear the cost of any memorials and of maintaining them but they do not own the grave space and the church has the task of keeping the churchyard in good order. The regulations specify that the churchyard is a lawned area with headstones, giving a spacious, peaceful and prayerful feel.
The Reverend Alan Crawley says:
“We recognise that the grave of a loved one is a sacred space and we don’t want to add to the grief of the families. A small number of graves do not comply with the churchyard regulations and we have been instructed to ensure that they do. This is obviously a very sensitive issue and we want to talk it through with the families first. It is complicated by the regulations changing over the years, so for instance older graves have surrounds around them that are not permitted today. We would like to ask anyone who is concerned to get in contact with us.”