For a number of years, members of the congregation have been managing the churchyard as part of the Wiltshire Living Churchyard Scheme. This means that as well as providing a place for the burial of loved ones or the interment of their ashes, the churchyard is managed to encourage native flora and fauna.
There are two distinct types of burial ground. A cemetery provides a place of burial without necessarily any religious connections, whereas a churchyard is attached to a church and the Christian beliefs of the risen and living Christ and life after death. The aim, therefore, is to mark the place where remains are buried but to have respect and awareness of this truth.
In previous times, these beliefs were held by many and so most people were buried in a churchyard. Older graves are marked with these Christian beliefs in mind but a recent trend has been to put all manner of items on the plot that could be associated with the person. It may seem that by putting things on the grave in this way somehow implies that the deceased was loved or cherished and there can be an element of “Keeping up with the Joneses” in finding more and unusual adornments, however this contravenes national churchyard regulations.
There have always been rules about what is welcomed in the churchyard to keep it special; place apart, but in keeping with its place within the countryside. The Neston Church PCC has been working on revising these to make them clearer. These rules will be published on the church notice board and copies available on request. They cover practical as well as safety issues. Spacing of the plots is important to allow the volunteer workforce to maintain the churchyard easily. It is required that no breakable containers such as glass or china be placed on the grave. Headstones are very heavy and are not erected until a suitable time for settlement has passed. If they become unstable it may be necessary to lay them flat until a relative can have them replaced properly.
Although you may be the only people around when you attend your relative’s grave, there are many people who come throughout the week and it is unusual for mowing and clearing to be carried out with a completely empty churchyard. Working around the weather can be difficult especially as our volunteers work full or part time as well.
Tending a grave is not the responsibility of the church but falls to friends and relatives to keep it looking tidy. Fresh flowers that adorn the grave are welcome but artificial flowers are not allowed.
We hope that people who have loved ones in the churchyard will check the new rules, which will be displayed on the church notice board.
We trust that you and visitors will continue to find Neston churchyard a place of beauty and peace.