Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a difference between cemeteries and churchyards?
A. Cemeteries can
and should be distinguished from churchyards. Churchyards,
traditionally, are places of burial connected to churches
either physically or through their ownership by the Church of
England. Their use has been recorded since the eighth century.
It is important to distinguish between cemeteries and
churchyards because they operate under different kinds of
legislation. Churchyards are consecrated tracts of land
subject to Church or Canon law. Certain types of activity
within a churchyard – such as reserving burial space or
removing headstones – require ‘permission’ or faculty.
Cemeteries may contain consecrated sections, which are also
subject to Church law. However, for the most part cemeteries
are managed under civic legislation.
It is possible to argue that, in material terms, churchyards
and cemeteries constitute two different kinds of burial space.
Churchyards are often small in extent, and perhaps cover no
more than a couple of acres (0.8 hectares). Cemeteries are
often laid out on a bigger scale: the largest are over 100
acres in size (40 hectares). Although historically status
could be attached to the location of burial within a
churchyard, for the most part its internal landscape lacks
intentional design. By contrast, cemeteries – large tracts of
land located on the outskirts of settlement, initially – came
into common use from the 1820s, and often designated
higher-status burial areas at major junctions and next to
major roads and paths. Cemeteries are almost always owned by
However, some sites sit at the ‘boundary’ between churchyard
and cemetery. For example, in many rural areas, successive
generations may have extended an ancient churchyard to
accommodate burials, but have more recently used civic
legislation to add a ‘cemetery’ to the extended churchyard. No
obvious distinction may be evident on viewing the site, but
part will be managed by the Parochial Church Council, and part
by the Parish Council.
In the UK we are continued to use burial space in both
cemeteries and churchyards. A lot of churchyards located
centrally in towns and cities were closed in the nineteenth
century, as a consequence of concerns about public health.
However, Victorian investment in new church building meant
that in many places new churchyards were laid out towards a
city’s periphery, often at the same time that new cemeteries
were being developed. Furthermore, many churchyards were
extended when space was required. In many rural locations,
villages are still reliant on churchyard space.
there any point in having a web site devoted to old
A. Of course
there is. Churchyards and cemeteries are a great store of
social history, where many people come to seek their roots.
These peaceful and tranquil oasis host not only great beauty
among hundreds of varied monuments, but gravestone
inscriptions are a wonderful source of information for both
the local historian and for the genealogist.
Q. Isn't it a
bit morbid wandering around graveyards?
A. No, Why not
pay a visit yourself, feel the atmosphere of wonderful old
cemeteries and have your imagination stimulated.
the photographs on the site 'free' to copy?
with a few restrictions as outlined by the Creative Commons
he bottom of the main page)
there any cemeteries which you are not going to photograph and
cemeteries which are deemed to be in use, or regularly used as
the main town or city cemetery, will not be photographed.
Q. Can you give
me some names of cemeteries you won't be adding?
Yes. Saltwell Cemetery, Gateshead, Hebburn and Jarrow
cemeteries, South Tyneside & Harton Cemetery, South Shields.
Q. Can I add my
own cemetery photographs to your site?
A. No, I'm
afraid not. All the images (apart from vintage photographs) on
this site are my own & I don't accept submissions for various
Q. Will you
be adding new graves?
a rule I use the year 1902 as a cut off point. i.e. The first
name entered on the stone would be before this date.
However some later graves are included up to the 1920& 30s.
CWGC are excluded from this rule.
you going to photograph recent gravestones?
A quiet spot in
Westoe Cemetery. South Shields
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