Maintaining graveyards

REGARDING last week's front page article about the churchyard at Budleigh Salterton. In my 40 years' service as a parish priest, I had responsibility for a number of churchyards and know many of the problems and upsets that can happen.

REGARDING last week's front page article about the churchyard at Budleigh Salterton.In my 40 years' service as a parish priest, I had responsibility for a number of churchyards and know many of the problems and upsets that can happen. I sympathise with all concerned, but ask your readers to understand that churches have to meet a heavy cost in maintaining churchyards so they can provide a decent resting place for burials and so give a vital service to the community of which they are a part. Parishioners have a right to be buried in their local churchyard and families can ask for permission to put up a memorial later. 'Their' grave space is not bought and stays part of the churchyard. Some general rules apply to the whole churchyard. These are intended to allow for necessary maintenance and to keep everything in order. When families break the rules (accidentally or on purpose), the church authorities are faced with a real difficulty and sometimes action is taken which causes distress. When complaints follow, often expressed in emotional terms, a parish priest may have great sympathy with the hurt feelings, but has to ask those involved to realise the rules have been carefully designed for the benefit of all who use the churchyard and have to be applied for everyone without exception. Most people understand this and do their best to comply, recognising they are receiving long-term and costly care for their loved ones long after the families may be in no condition to provide it themselves. The Reverend Charles Townshend,Mutterings, Church Road, Colaton Raleigh.


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