To ask the right hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps the Church is taking to ensure the maintenance of its burial grounds.
24 March 2020
The responsibility for maintenance of Church of England churchyards that are open for burials lies with each Parochial Church Council. However, if the churchyard has been closed for burials by order of the Privy Council or other agreement, the usual practice is for responsibility to transfer to the relevant Local Authority. Maintenance of a closed churchyard is still undertaken in line with the relevant ecclesiastical legislation, which still applies. Each diocese similarly produces its own guidance and regulations.
Advice and guidance is always available for parishes and all local authorities from the Cathedral and Church Buildings Division of the Archbishops’ Council. The Church Buildings Division is currently developing a digital Burial Grounds Management System with external partners. This will in the next few years digitally map all graveyards and burial records to allow a publicly available and searchable records and monuments map to increase access to our churchyards. Following a successful trial in the Diocese of Leeds this project will gradually roll out to the rest of the country.