TWO Exmouth families with relatives buried at St Peter's burial ground, Budleigh Salterton, claim their loved-ones' graves have been 'vandalised' by a groundsman working to strict church rules.
TWO Exmouth families with relatives buried at St Peter's burial ground, Budleigh Salterton, claim their loved-ones' graves have been 'vandalised' - by a groundsman working to strict church rules.They are upset that flowers, including daffodils, planted around family graves have been mown down - recent church rules state floral tributes or flowers must be placed only on the base of headstones.A 52-year-old Brixington woman said her 79-year-old mother-in-law, who lives in Meadow Road, Budleigh Salterton, had been so traumatised by the damage caused to the graves of her husband and daughter, she had spent days crying and was unable to sleep.Both families this week independently contacted the Journal, claiming an 'over-zealous' groundsman, responsible for the upkeep of the Moor Lane cemetery, had driven his ride-on mower over relatives' graves - destroying daffodils and flowers planted in the grass.But the vicar of St Peter's Church, the Reverend Robert Charles, said the burial ground was governed by strict guidelines, from the Diocesan Chancellor, which ruled floral tributes or flowers must not be placed in the area of a grave apart from on the base of the headstone.This week, the 52-year-old Thomas Close resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "My mother-in-law never recovered from losing her daughter. The graves were all she had left of her husband and daughter."In the last few days the groundsman has gone over the bottom of my sister-in-law's grave, which was looking beautiful. All the flowers have been run over and messed up. Half the grave is missing."It should be put right. It's the least they can do. My mother-in-law couldn't sleep for two days. She's devastated."My father-in-law's flowers have been just chucked on the headstone."Another upset resident, Mrs Davis, of Breton Way, Exmouth, also contacted the Journal to say she was 'saddened' to learn that her family was no longer allowed to plant flowers around or on her parents' grave - and must instead leave them on the headstone.Mrs Davis said: "It seems we are now being told what we can and cannot leave at our loved one's grave - this last act has now been taken from us."This was once a calm and enjoyable place to visit where we could share our thoughts and flowers. Sadly, we must now do as we are told - like children."Mr Charles said, since June 2008, letters had been sent to families applying for burial space for their relatives, outlining the rules and regulations.He said flowers grown in the grass made it difficult for the groundsman to maintain the site. "Burial grounds are a very sensitive issue," he said. "Over the years, one or two people have planted shrubs or have put a type of border on graves. This is just not allowed."Several people have added things, and these things are being knocked about. It should all be grass. They shouldn't be planting there."l Have your say at www.exmouthjournal.co.uk