There are a great deal of restrictions surrounding who is entitled to put a grave marker or other memorial on a grave site in the UK. These restrictions take into consideration who is in possession of the Deed of Grant for the grave as well as to the rules set down by the cemetery in which the plot lies.
Only the person named on the Deed of Grant to a cemetery plot is entitled to put a headstone on a grave, provided that the cemetery allows it. If you do not own the Deed of Grant and place a grave marker on the site, the Registered Grave Owner is legally entitled to remove it or have it removed.
It is worth bearing in mind that even if you are the person named on the Deed of Grant and therefore entitled to put a headstone or other grave marker on a grave site, you are still bound by the rules and restrictions of the cemetery in which the grave lies.
If your deceased loved one has been laid to rest in an eco cemetery for example, you may be restricted to placing only biodegradable headstone markers, or none at all. Traditional churchyards have strict rules regarding the materials of gravestones and memorials, as well as their design. For instance, a Christian churchyard may not permit any iconography that relates to another religion.
When a grave is purchased, a Deed of Grant is bestowed on the Registered Grave Owner. This gives them the exclusive rights to the grave for 50 years. After this period of time is up, the Deed of Grant must be extended in order to continue ownership of the grave site.
Usually only the person named on the Deed of Grant can erect memorials or headstones on a grave. Nevertheless, there are some circumstances in which other people can become involved in the process. These include:
While there is no one specific rule around how long you need to wait before you can put a headstone on a burial grave, as a guideline figure it is recommended that you wait for at least six months, if not longer. This is for a number of reasons, the first of which is that the ground needs time to settle before a gravestone can be erected. For the first six months, the grave may still be settling – and in some burial grounds, this can be a risk for closer to a year. If a headstone is placed in sinking ground, then it is likely to lean forward.
There are emotional reasons too; you will have a clearer idea of what you want inscribed on a headstone after a few months when the initial shock has passed and the grieving process is slightly further along. The epitaph you choose will be there to last, so it is worth taking the time to ensure that it is right.
Only the Registered Grave Owner is legally entitled to replace a headstone. If anyone else erects a memorial without their support, it can be removed in compliance with laws supporting the removal of any unauthorised items from the grave site. These restrictions do not just apply to the headstone itself, but also to any toys, memorabilia or gravestone ornaments that may be on the grave.
The Registered Grave Owner may also be instructed to replace a headstone if it is not in compliance with the rules set by the cemetery if the offending aspects (such as an inappropriate colour, decoration, flower vase or type of image) cannot be altered in situ. Here are some sandblasted designs for inspiration.
If you are the Registered Grave Owner, adding a second name to a headstone is possible and allowed, provided that the lettering and any additional decoration comply with cemetery restrictions. It is also possible to have an extra inscription added to the back of the gravestone if there is no space on the front – this is rarely prohibited.
The cost of adding a second inscription to a headstone, or adding to the inscription on an existing headstone or memorial, does tend to be more expensive than the initial inscription, even if the work is being carried out in situ. You can either seek out the company responsible for inscribing the headstone in the first place or find someone new. Often the price is discounted for returning customers but distance can also play a part in the quote you receive so it is always worth contacting a few different companies for comparison.
Open for Business
Our dedicated staff are here to answer your calls and emails, orders are being processed and memorials installed as usual.
Our main showroom in Dunstable is open by appointment only. We cannot receive walk-in customers at this time so please do not turn up without calling us for an appointment first.
We can only allow one family group at a time in the showroom (max 4 people). Hand sanitiser will be made available to customers and masks can be worn on request.
Our London showroom will remain closed for the time being.
Home Visit Service
This service has now been resumed. Please call for an appointment if you would like someone to visit you at home to discuss your memorial requirements.
Most of our memorials will be able to fit a photo plaque but this very much depends on two things: 1) the size of memorial you have chosen and 2) the quantity of inscription text you wish to add. We will be able to advise on this before you place your order and if necessary show you a mock-up to confirm the fit. As a guide, the standard photo plaque is an 10cm x 8cm oval.
You can order our designs in many different materials, the most popular being Black or Grey Granite. Some Cemeteries and Graveyards have restrictions on which materials can be used, this is something we would clarify before you place an order. Please see our Materials & Finishes page for colour swatches and more details.
Everyone at Memorials of Distinction have been so professional, caring and excellent from start to finish with providing me a wonderful memorial to my dad. They listened to my requirements, kept me up to date with the progress and the memorial produced was perfect. I would happily recommend Memorials of Distinction to anyone and so very pleased I chose them. They so deserve the 5 star rating.
Frances H. Google Review: 28/04/2022
Thank you it’s perfect and put in place sooner than I expected which is brilliant as it’s his birthday next week. I will recommend your company to anyone I know who has to get a headstone.
This was a ren0vation and additional inscription.
Sheila A. Sent by email: 17/04/2019
Absolutely outstanding service from start to finish. I am so glad I found this company! Every single person I have been in contact with has been so kind, understanding and there to cater to my needs. My sons headstone and kerb is fabulous and much more than I could have dreamed of. They dealt with me with compassion and talked me through every step of the process.
This was a bespoke memorial
Spring Gardens Cemetery, Abingdon, Oxfordshire
Chelcie B. Google Review: 11/03/2022
Factory & Showroom (Head Office)
The Memorial Works
Southfields Road Dunstable LU6 3EP