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Frequently asked questions - Burial

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    Large Lawn Section
    ​The large lawn section at the City of London Ceme​tery

Burial

People often have many questions regarding burial practices and procedures. Some of the most frequently asked questions are listed below. Simply select the question to reveal the answer.

If the question you have is not listed or if you need further information regarding burial, cremation or any of our other services please download our Funeral Brochure here (6.17 MB) or contact our Bereavement Services team on 020 8530 2151 or cemetery@cityoflondon.gov.uk.​​

Why are graves dug so deep?

​Graves have to be dug to a sufficient depth to allow for future burials to take place. Therefore the grave needs to be deep enough to allow not only for the depth of coffins/caskets that will be buried but also to accommodate legal requirements of undisturbed earth to be between each coffin and the amount of earth that must cover the last interment.

I have a lawn grave.  Why can't I put a full memorial over the surface of the grave?

​The lawn grave was designed on the war grave principle (to have only a memorial of limited size at the head of the grave with the rest of the grave laid to lawn). In this manner the limited area available for burial is best utilised. In addition maintenance is easier to accomplish with large mowing machinery being used to keep the area in a neat condition. These graves are sold on the understanding that only lawn style memorials are erected. Full memorials are only permitted on Traditional graves, which are also available at the City of London Cemetery

Are graves filled in straight after a funeral or are they left until the next day?

​Graves are prepared for burial at least one full day before the funeral and are covered overnight. The IBCA Guiding Principles for Burial Services states that immediately after the mourners have departed the graveside, the grave shall be entirely backfilled and made tidy. This work is completed on the day of the burial and coffins are not left uncovered overnight.

Can anyone witness the grave being filled?

​Yes, but we need to be advised of this before the funeral takes place so that we are prepared.

If I own a grave, can anyone else be buried in it if I don't want them to?

​No. Graves cannot be opened without the permission in writing of the registered owner of the grave. The only exception to this is where the burial is to be that of the registered owner in which case no written authority is required.

What happens when the grave lease expires?

​When you buy a grave you purchase the exclusive Rights of Burial in that grave for a set period of time. Should you not renew your lease options, then the exclusive rights of burial will eventually run out. Every 5 years during the duration of the lease the registered owner will be written to and offered the option to extend the length of lease.

What happens if / when all of the grave owners have died?

​Ownership of the exclusive Right of Burial in a grave can be transferred from a deceased owner via that owner's estate. The means of transfer can be very complex and while there is a set procedure to follow, each case must be looked at individually. If you need to transfer ownership when all owners are deceased you will need to contact us.

When a new grave is purchased it is not the ownership of the land itself that is purchased, but the rights to have burials take place in that grave. These rights are sold, or to be more correct, 'granted' together with the rights to erect a memorial on the grave in accordance with the rules and regulations of the City of London Cemetery. There are many different types of grave within the City of London and each permits a different type of memorial to be erected upon the grave.

I want to bury cremated remains into a grave.  Why do I have to decide whether there will be any more burials before this can be done?

​It is against the law to disturb human remains without licence (including cremated remains in a casket or urn), and therefore no further burials will be possible in the grave until a licence has been obtained. Cremated remains can be buried in the grave at full depth, in which case they will not be disturbed by further full body burials, but by having to excavate a grave to this depth there will be additional charges for opening the grave.

Why cant I have what I want on the grave?

​When a new grave is purchased it is not the ownership of the land itself that is purchased, but the rights to have burials take place in that grave. These rights are sold, or to be more correct, 'granted' together with the rights to erect a memorial on the grave in accordance with the rules and regulations of the City of London Cemetery. There are many different types of grave within the City of London and each permits a different type of memorial to be erected upon the grave.

I need to buy a headstone.  Do you recommend stone masons?

​No, we are not permitted to recommend anyone. Do not entertain any Monumental Mason who approaches you in the Cemetery or who calls to your home.​


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