Cemeteries regulations - 9. Burials

9.1.1. All burials shall be witnessed by the Authorised officer.

9.1.2. No burial in a coffined grave shall be less than three feet below the level of the adjoining ground, however the Authorised Officer may determine, in circumstances where the soil is of a suitable character, to permit a coffin made of a perishable material to be placed not less than two feet below the level of any ground adjoining the grave.

9.2. Coffined Grave

9.2.1. The maximum number of coffined burials in a grave is 3, where depth allows.

9.2.2. In a coffined grave provision is given for the burial of cremated remains up to a maximum of 4 separate caskets where the depth remaining can allow. Provision is also given for up to 4 caskets of cremated remains to be loosely poured into the grave where depth allows.

9.3. A walled grave

9.3.1. Upon occasion the grave depth required in an earthen grave may not be achieved usually due to previous burials, but occasionally an unknown or unexpected obstacle. In these circumstances the Exclusive Right of Burial owner/purchaser shall be notified as soon as possible and shall be provided with two options to enable the funeral to proceed, as follows;

  • The construction of walled grave, at the cost of owner/purchaser
  • The purchase of (or transfer to) another burial plot

9.3.2. Where the depth remaining in a plot is insufficient for a future burial the Exclusive Right of Burial owner shall be notified prior to the next burial, and usually immediately after the Authorised Officer has become aware.

9.3.3. It may be the desire of the deceased or the deceased’s family for a walled grave to be constructed regardless of the depth of grave. In these situations, an additional cost shall apply.

9.3.4. Construction of a walled grave shall be undertaken by a suitably qualified person to the satisfaction of the Authorised Officer, either appointed by the Exclusive Right of Burial owner or by a Council appointed contractor, and shall meet the following minimum requirements;

  • Enclose in a separate cell or compartment of brick, slate, stone flagging or precast concrete slabs of a 1:2:4 mix, in any case not less than two inches thick, in such a manner as to prevent, as far as is possible, the escape of any noxious gas from the interior of the cell or compartment.
  • The Council further requires any suitably qualified person to follow the guidance as provided by the Institute of Cemetery & Crematorium Management Policy relating to Shallow Depth Graves.

9.4. Cremated (ashes) Remains Grave

9.4.1. Cremated remains may be interred in a casket, (or another approved container) or poured loosely into the grave. Burials shall be in a cremation grave.

9.4.2. The maximum number of caskets in a cremation grave is 4.

9.4.3. Provision is available for an additional 2 caskets to be loosely poured into the grave.

9.4.4. It is not necessary for a Funeral Director to be present at the burial of cremated remains; although a fee shall be chargeable should families choose to request the Authorised Officer to officiate.

9.5. Cremated remains in the Garden of Remembrance

9.5.1. Cremated remains shall be loosely poured into Garden of Remembrance plots and location recorded on a map/plan.

9.5.2. It is not necessary for a Funeral Director to be present at the burial of cremated remains; although a fee shall be chargeable should families choose to request the Authorised Officer to officiate.

9.6. Scattering of cremated (ashes) remains

9.6.1. The scattering of cremated remains is typically undertaken in those Cemeteries with a Garden of Remembrance. However, scattering at other locations shall be at the discretion of the Authorised Officer. The location of scattered cremated remains shall be recorded on a map/plan.

9.6.2. It is not necessary for a Funeral Director to be present at the scattering of cremated remains; although a fee shall be chargeable should families choose to request the Authorised Officer to officiate.

9.7. Notice of Interment

9.7.1. All burial requests shall be made in the first instance by telephone or email to the Cemeteries Office.

9.7.2. The minimum waiting period (exclusive of weekends, public or bank holidays) ahead of any burial is typically;

  • Burial in an earthen grave 5 days
  • Construction or burial in a walled grave 5 days

9.7.3. Requests made within 5 working days will be accommodated when possible. Where requests are made for funerals outside of office hours an additional fee shall be charged. However, the Cemeteries Service cannot guarantee that such requests shall be met owing to such limiting factors as; staffing, contractor availability, other bookings etc.

9.7.4. The Notice of Interment Form (and all other relevant application forms) and Original Certificate for Burial or Cremation shall be submitted to the Cemeteries Office at least 72 hours prior to the requested time of burial; signed by the owner of the Exclusive Right of Burial (if applicable), accompanied by the appropriate fee and the original Deed of Grant for Exclusive Right of Burial. A grave purchase form may also require completing and the appropriate fee paid. Application forms are available from the Cemeteries Office. See section 8 for more information regarding the Exclusive Right of Burial.

9.7.5. To ensure public safety the Council requires notice of those funerals at which in excess of 50 mourners are expected owing to the risk of additional vehicle movements in the cemetery.

9.8. Coffins & Caskets

9.8.1. The dimensions provided of the Coffin or Casket shall be the maximum actual length, width and depth of the coffin/casket to be interred including all adornments.

9.8.2. Graves shall be dug sufficiently large enough to admit coffins/caskets to the dimensions specified in the Notice of Interment. Where dimensions supplied exceed those that were provided at application, the Council reserves the right to charge an additional fee. This is usually the purchase of a second grave. The funeral may have to be delayed or possibly cancelled/postponed.

9.8.3. No burial shall be permitted unless the body of the deceased person is contained in a casement which is compliant with public health, human dignity and decency. For a burial in a walled grave, coffins shall be airtight and to the satisfaction of the Authorised Officer.

9.8.4. Every coffin shall bear details of the deceased person or persons therein.

9.9. Certificate of Disposal

9.9.1. A Certificate for Disposal issued by the Registrar of Births and Deaths or a Coroners Order for Burial shall be delivered to the Cemeteries Office at the same time as the completed Notice of Interment Form, and not less than 72 hours ahead of the burial.

9.9.2. Prior to the burial of cremated remains, the Cremation Certificate shall be delivered to the Cemeteries Office at the same time as the completed Notice of Interment Form, and not less than 72 hours ahead of the burial.

9.9.3. In the case of non-viable foetus, the Medical Practitioner or Midwifes Certificate of Delivery shall be required, and not less than 72 hours ahead of the burial.

9.9.4. No burial shall take place unless the certificate of disposal is produced in any case.

9.9.5. The Council shall not be responsible for;

  • Any discrepancies, errors or omissions in any notice of interment or other document which is required to be given or served on the Council or for liability arising from such discrepancies, errors or omissions.
  • The late receipt of any interment or other document which is required to be given or served on the Council or from liability arising from such late receipt.

9.10. The Burial

9.10.1. It is the responsibility of the Funeral Director/Undertaker or funeral organiser to arrange with any Clergy, Minister, Celebrant or other faith/non-faith equivalent to be present to perform any religious or secular service at a burial of any kind.

9.10.2. Where a funeral is not arranged or conducted by a Funeral Director, or other professional, the organiser of the funeral may choose to pay an additional fee for the Authorised Officer to officiate.

9.10.3. All graves shall be prepared by persons employed by the Council or the Council’s appointed contractor. All graves shall be adequately shored at all times, there are no exceptions.

9.10.4. Any form of religious service may be used, but any other ceremony is subject to the approval of the Authorised Officer. Alternatively, the coffin may be committed without a service.

9.10.5. To excavate or gain access to a grave, it may be necessary to temporarily place plant, equipment and excavated materials on top of adjacent graves. Every effort shall be made to avoid neighbouring graves where there is a notable date imminent (i.e. date of birth or death). The period during which this may be necessary shall be kept to a minimum. Once the burial has been completed, the grave shall be backfilled, and the surface of any adjacent grave affected by the works shall be made good.

9.10.6. Similarly, it may be necessary to temporarily remove memorials to enable access to excavate a grave. Owners shall be written to informing them of the work required. Once the burial has been completed, the grave shall be backfilled and any memorials that have been removed shall be replaced on the relevant grave.

9.10.7. The time stated for a funeral shall be punctually observed to ensure that one funeral does not interfere with another. Any funeral arriving before the appointed time shall wait until the time arranged. Any funeral arriving after the appointed time shall act under the direction of the Authorised Officer who shall determine when the burial may proceed. Late arrival may incur additional charges, delay or cancellation.

9.11. Other Faith Funerals

9.11.1. The Council recognises and accepts the need for sensitivity when dealing with all members of the community, to ensure, as far as is practicable and lawful, the faith wishes of the deceased and the deceased’s family can be met.

9.11.2. The Cemeteries Regulations shall apply in all situations where other faith funerals are requested.

9.11.3. Mourners may backfill graves themselves, but only with the permission of the Authorised Officer and on completion of an indemnity form.

9.11.4. Mourners who undertake the backfilling of graves do so entirely at the own risk. The Council shall not be liable for any injury whatsoever. Mourners are advised to limit the numbers of those backfilling to reduce overcrowding at the grave side to no more than 5. The Council recommends appropriate footwear and gloves are worn.

9.11.5. Upon receipt of a deposit the Council shall provide webs and putlogs to enable the safe lowering of the coffin into the grave. The Council shall provide steps or a ladder for mourners to enter the grave safely. Shovels shall also be provided. The Authorised Officer and grave diggers shall be nearby to supervise and support the backfilling of graves as required.

9.11.6. In situations where mourners are to undertake the funeral directly, including the backfilling of the grave, then wooden shoring shall be used. The use of shoring is an important requirement to ensure the safety of any person operating in or next to the grave. This shoring shall be left in the grave to enable mourners to backfill. The cost of the shoring shall be met by the Exclusive Right of Burial owner and not the Council.

9.11.7. Burials without coffins are permitted provided that the deceased is brought to the grave in a temporary coffin and is contained within a shroud. Screening shall be used to afford decency during the burial (screening by mourners is acceptable) and shall be supplied by those organising the funeral. Shroud only burials are not permitted if the deceased had a contagious or notifiable disease.

9.11.8. Contractor staff and the Authorised Officer shall always be available to assist, where they can, at all funerals.

9.11.9. Muslim burials are undertaken in a reserved section at Chalcraft Cemetery where the orientation of the grave space complies with the rites of the faith.

9.11.10. Occasionally the Cemeteries Service receives requests to undertake a Muslim burial within 24 hours or at the earliest possible time. The Council shall, if resources allow, attempt to accommodate weekday burials at short notice where possible. There shall be no additional fee for weekday short notice burials where they can be reasonably accommodated. The provision of "chamber" graves may require a minimum of 24 hours’ notice and in the case of vaults a minimum of five full working days. The Council shall, in any case, offer the soonest available booking. For burials which can be accommodated outside of normal working hours an additional fee shall be charged.

9.12. Floral Tributes

9.13. Flowers and wreaths may be placed upon the grave in which the burial takes place and may remain there for a maximum of 14 days. Floral tributes shall be removed after this elapsed time or when perished, whichever occurs first.

9.14. Time after Burial

9.15. Once the burial has been completed the ground needs to settle. There are different regulations for the different sections of the Cemeteries. This information is provided in Section 7.

9.16. Fees and Charges

9.16.1. Fees and Charges for all Cemeteries services shall be determined by the Council annually to take effect from 1st April each year. All fees are payable in advance to the Council.

9.17. Double Fee Charges

9.17.1. Double fee charges shall apply if the deceased had not been resident in the Arun area for a period of 18 months or more prior to death. In exceptional circumstances Double Fees may be waivered and shall be at the sole discretion of the Cemeteries Manager.

9.17.2. Any person not residing in the Arun area wishing to purchase a plot in one of the Council’s Cemeteries, then double fee charges shall apply. The only exception is in situations where the grave is purchased for the burial of an Arun resident by persons residing out of the district.

9.18. Chapels

9.18.1. Chapels are available at Bognor Regis and Littlehampton Cemetery.

9.18.2. Chapels can be hired, and services undertaken without the presence of the Authorised Officer. Where the Authorised Officer is requested to attend, an additional fee shall apply.

9.19. Children

9.19.1. There are areas within the Council Cemeteries which are set aside for the burial of children.

9.19.2. Only children may be interred in these sections, there are no exceptions. Where parents or the Next of Kin wish to be buried with their child then this shall be in an adult grave elsewhere in the Cemetery.

9.19.3. Parents, or the Next of Kin, shall take ownership of the Exclusive Right of Burial as described in Section 8 and shall need to complete a memorial application also described below before a headstone/memorial can be installed.

9.19.4. There are no Fees or Charges payable for any child under the age of eighteen whose parents reside in the District.

9.19.5. These areas may be located in either lawn and traditional sections, and so the relevant regulations shall apply.

9.19.6. The Council recognises the challenging time parents, or the Next of Kin may face in coming to terms with the death of their child. The Council shall always discuss matters sensitively, however these Cemeteries Regulations shall apply.