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    View fro, Chapel Avenue

    ​Beautiful view from Chapel Avenue

The aim of the City of London Cemetery and Crematorium to help the bereaved through a very difficult time in their life. For this reason we have included some information and contact details on Memorial Masons, the services provided by the Coroners, Exhumations, Public Mortuaries, and how to register a death, for your convenience. Please select one of the sections below.

Memorials

A gravestone is more than just a marker over a grave - it is a lasting symbol of remembrance and a tribute to the life of the deceased person. It is therefore important to take care over the design and the choice of Mason.

Choosing a Monumental Mason

Although the City of London Cemetery is not permitted to recommend specific Masons, we can provide you with a list of masons who regularly carry out work here. This is not a guarantee of their materials or workmanship.

You may wish to choose a Mason based on recommendation from friends or relatives, but we advise that as with all important purchases, you should obtain written quotes from a least three different companies and ask to see examples of their work.

The City of London Cemetery and Crematorium does not condone the soliciting or canvassing of any individual or company in regard to memorial work, and would remind visitors that it does not employ its own Masons.

If anyone approaches you and offers to carry out memorial work (new memorials, additional inscriptions or renovations), please inform the Conservation Team on Tel: 020 8530 9836.

Any Monumental Masons behaving in this inappropriate manner may, under the rules and regulations, be banned from carrying out work within the Cemetery.

Selecting the gravestone as well as ordering the gravestone which best suits your needs it is important to remember that the size, colour, shape and style may be limited by cemetery regulations. Generally speaking, a gravestone should be made of a solid stone such as granite, marble, limestone or Portland stone. In some parts of the Cemetery only light-coloured stone is permitted to blend in with the existing landscape.

Photo plaques

A photograph plaque of your loved one may be fixed to the gravestone. The City of London Cemetery and Crematorium can supply these.

Selecting an inscription

It is important to take your time in choosing the appropriate inscription, and you will need to bear in mind the length of text used. If the inscription is very long, there may not be sufficient room on the stone for future additions.​

Vase plates

A vase plate is an additional item that you may choose to be placed in front of the grave stone. You will need to consider how many flower vases it needs to accommodate. We recommend that all vase plates are inscribed with the grave number and square number.

Obtaining permission

Before a gravestone can be erected in the Cemetery, the Mason must submit a permit to the cemetery and pay the appropriate fee. Once the permit has been approved, the mason will return to the Cemetery where the grave stone will be inspected before and after it is put into place.

Permits are sometimes refused and returned to the Mason if, for example:

  1. The correct grave owner has not signed the permit and given their name in full, exactly as it appears in the Cemetery records (if there is more than one registered owner, all the owners must give their full name(s) and sign the permit).
  2. The grave stone does not meet our regulations.

The City of London Cemetery will not allow any masonry work to be carried out without the correct permit.

Responsibility for the gravestone

The grave owner (not the Cemetery) is responsible for the maintenance of the gravestone, and should the stone become unstable or dilapidated, steps may be taken to lay it down, remove it or make it safe.

If you have any questions, please contact us on 020 8530 2151 between 9.30am and 3.30pm, Monday to Friday (except Bank Holidays).

You may also wish to contact the National Association of Memorial Masons (NAMM).

27a Albert Street
Rugby
Warwickshire
CV21 2SG
Tel: 01788 542 264

The role of the Coroner

The Role of the Coroner

The Senior Coroner for the City is appointed by the City of London to investigate deaths reported to him and cases of treasure that is found. He has two assistant coroners, with the same powers. All are lawyers, though one assistant also has a medical qualification.

The office of coroner is regulated by the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, Part I, and rules and regulations made under that Act. While coroners are appointed and financed by local authorities, they are judicial officers holding an independent office, rather than employees. In practice, coroners are responsible to the High Court and to the Chief Coroner.

A coroner normally has jurisdiction in relation to a death only if the body is lying within his area (in this case the City of London). It does not matter where the death occurred, but where the body now is. The coroner's inquest is a public hearing in open court, to which witnesses are called to give evidence about the death in question, or about treasure that has been found. No-one prosecutes or defends - instead the coroner inquires. He or she is in charge and, for example, decides which witnesses to call and question.

Some people – such as those who have an emotional or financial interest in the death – are allowed, as 'interested persons', not only to attend the hearing but also to take part in the inquiry by asking relevant questions of the witnesses either themselves or through a lawyer.

Inquests do not establish if anyone was at fault or to blame for deaths. Instead, they try to find out (and record) who the deceased was, how, when and where the deceased came by his or her death and the particulars needed for registration of the death. Matters of blame or fault can only be pursued in separate civil or criminal proceedings. The coroner may report the facts to an appropriate authority which may have power to prevent similar fatalities in future, but he or she cannot make recommendations or compel the authority to do anything.

Until 1926 a coroner always sat with a jury, but now this only happens in rare cases. As a coroner's inquest depends on the detail and complexity of the evidence, it may last as little as half an hour or as much as several days. In principle, coroners' inquests are open to the public, and, subject to space being available, anyone may attend. Witnesses who are summoned must attend.

In addition to holding inquests into certain kinds of deaths, a coroner holds inquests into treasure that is found in his or her area. Medieval law held treasure trove to be gold or silver that had been hidden with a view to retrieval later. The Treasure Act 1996 widened this to include other categories such as coins and other objects. All treasure found in the City or in Southwark belongs by law to the City of London rather than to the Crown.

Casualty Bureau

In the event of a major incident a casualty bureau telephone number will be released, by the police, through the national media.

Please do not call the Department of Environmental Services contact telephone numbers given in the section on the St Pancras Mortuary on these web pages.

The Casualty Bureau is not intended as a general information bureau. It is set up specifically to deal with missing persons, survivors, evacuees and witnesses involved in an incident. The Casualty Bureau is designed to receive and collate information not give it out. However, when casualties or survivors are identified, the enquirer is told as soon as possible following a call.

Contact

The City of London Coroner
The Senior Coroner for the City is Paul Matthews and the Coroner's Officer is Barry Tuckfield.
City of London Coroner's Court
Walbrook Wharf
78-83 Upper Thames Street
London EC4R 3TD
Tel: 020 7332 1598 (out-of-hours via City of London Police on 020 7601 2222) 

Exhumations

Exhumation is the removal of human remains from their place of interment. The need to exhume is not a common occurrence and is only allowed in exceptional cases. However, when exhumation is required it must be done with the greatest dignity and respect and with all of the necessary legal licences obtained and documentation duly completed.

Reasons why exhumations are required

There are a number of reasons why exhumation may be required. Recent exhumations from the City of London Cemetery have been for the purpose of repatriation overseas, or where it has been discovered after the burial that the deceased wanted to be cremated.

Licences to exhume

It is an offence to disturb human remains (including cremated remains) without first obtaining the correct lawful permissions.

The lawful permissions to exhume are:

A Licence to Exhume issued by the Ministry of Justice

Ministry of Justice
2nd Floor
102 Petty France
London SW1H 9AJ
Tel: 020 3334 6390

An Ecclesiastical Faculty

Diocesan Registry
1 The Sanctuary
London SW1P 3JT
Tel: 020 7222 5381 (10am to 4pm on normal working days)

Faculty Office website

Which licence to use depends on the location of the grave, ie whether it is located in a consecrated or non-consecrated area of the cemetery. Under certain circumstances both of the above licences will be required before an exhumation can take place.

How to arrange an exhumation

The first step is to contact us and we will advise what legal documentation is required and what permissions need to be obtained.

Application must normally be made by the next of kin of the deceased, or with the written authority of the next of kin attached to the application. The registered owner of the grave if not the next of kin must also give written permission for the exhumation to take place. If there is more than one registered grave owner then all owners must give written permission.

Once all legal documentation has been obtained, permissions given by the grave owners, and the fee paid (an exhumation fee is provided on application), a time and date will be set by us in liaison with the appointed funeral director.

Use of a Funeral Director

Regardless as to what reason the exhumation is for, ie repatriation, reburial in a different grave (in the same cemetery or elsewhere) or for cremation, there is a need for a Funeral Director to be involved. The exhumation is carried out by City of London Cemetery staff, once exhumed the coffin/casket becomes the responsibility of the Funeral Director. The Funeral Director is required to be in attendance with a new coffin of sufficient size to accommodate the original coffin removed from the grave. The body is not removed from the original coffin. The coffin and its contents are lifted out of the grave and placed straight into the new 'shell' coffin in readiness for transportation to the final place of rest.

The above procedure will not of course be required when the exhumation is that of cremated remains.

The day of exhumation

Exhumations take place early in the morning before the cemetery is open. This is for the sake of decency and also health and safety.

An environmental health officer for the area (London Borough of Newham) may choose to witness the exhumation. Should this Environmental Health Officer decide that the removal of the coffin/casket will create a health hazard he/she may stop the exhumation.

Exhumation may be witnessed by a personal representative appointed by the next of kin/applicant.

Public mortuaries

Public Mortuary Service 

The Public Health Act 1936 gives local authorities power to provide a mortuary for the reception of bodies and the carrying out of post-mortems and the City of London has been providing HM Coroner for the City of London with a public mortuary for many years.

The City of London also has contingency plans to deal with circumstances where the existing mortuary used is unable to cope, eg a transport accident or terrorist incident resulting in large numbers of deaths. Responsibility for provision of temporary mortuary facilities are allocated to the Department of Environmental Services.

Other mortuary services 

  • To provide for the dignified and respectful receipt, storage and examination of deceased persons as requested by the HM Coroner.
  • To assist appointed Pathologists with autopsies.
  • To provide facilities for the dignified viewing of the deceased persons by relatives (usually for identification purposes).
  • To liaise with relatives or funeral undertakers for the collection of the deceased person and any belongings following release by the HM Coroner.
  • To be an integral part of the London-wide disaster response plans in conjunction with the City of London Security and Contingency Planning Group, City of London Police and the London Resilience Forum.

For the City this service is currently contracted to be provided on behalf of the City of London by the London Borough of Camden at their St. Pancras Public Mortuary. Any enquiries concerning this service for The City of London "Square Mile" please contact:

Tel: 020 7332 3630
Email: publicprotection@cityoflondon.gov.uk

Out of hours telephone: 020 7606 3030

Any enquiries concerning other London Borough's with districts adjacent to the City of London then please see the listing of Coroners under contacts heading above.

Registering a death

Registering a death is a service provided by Islington Council.

The City of London does not have this facility and has an arrangement with Islington to use their services.

The Registrar's office is open between 9.30am and 1pm, Monday to Friday. Visitors are advised to telephone in advance to make an appointment.

St Bartholomew's Hospital
Robin Brook Centre
West Smithfield
London EC1A 7BE
Tel: 020 7600 4977

View location map 

Public records

Use GOV.UK to research your family history and access to public records. This site gives you easy access to information and links to the main UK family history sites on the web.

The National Archives is the repository of the national archives for England, Wales and the United Kingdom. It was founded by act of Parliament in 1838 to bring together and preserve the records of central government and the courts of law, and to make them available to all whom wish to consult them. The records, beginning with Doomsday Book (1086), span an unbroken period from the 11th century to the present.​


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