St John’s Churchyard – important information

Although St John’s Church building was closed 15 years ago and later sold in 2010 to a private developer, the churchyard has remained the responsibility of the Bollington Parochial Church Council (PCC) based at St Oswald’s, our Parish Church, at Bollington Cross.

The churchyard is now closed to new burials, except where there is space in existing family graves. However, a legal complication has delayed the legal closure of some parts of the churchyard. This means that we have not been able to transfer responsibility and costs for maintenance of the churchyard automatically to the local council. An informal request was therefore made to Cheshire East in 2016 to take on this responsibility but this was turned down. Due to a lack of sufficient local volunteers able or willing to carry out maintenance of the churchyard on a regular basis, we first engaged the help of the Community Payback Team over five years ago now. Following discussions with Bollington Town Council, arrangements have now been made for the Community Payback Team to cut the grass regularly through the growing season. This was carried out successfully during last year and, at the time of writing, the grass is short, allowing access to all graves. Ours is a very large graveyard so several visits are required to complete the whole area. We hope this arrangement will continue this year.

The church’s obligation for maintenance extends to the safety of the churchyard and its memorials, in order to comply with Chester Diocesan Churchyard Regulations (which can be found on the Diocesan website). Regular and fully documented safety inspections will be carried out at intervals, to identify:
– Risks from trees, in order to carry out safety work where necessary (in line with any Tree Preservation Order)
– Dangerous headstones and monuments
– Any breaches of Chester Diocesan Churchyard Regulations.

Potentially unsafe graves were identified in an inspection carried out in November last year, using the St John’s Churchyard Plan. In all, 75 graves have been noted, 30 of which we consider may need attention. Overextended graves which contravene the Churchyard Regulations, open graves and any that could be a tripping hazard have also been noted, as well as graves undermined by saplings that may cause damage and/or instability.

Any laying down of dangerous headstones has to be done with the agreement of the family who own the monument or otherwise by approval of the Diocese, via a Faculty application. The laying down will be carried out by a suitably qualified person.

The first interments in the Rose Garden

The Columbarium at St John’s was opened in 1958 and fifty-odd years later, space for further interments was becoming limited. Many of you have been kind enough to contribute to the cost of creating more space within the Columbarium to try to meets the present and future needs of our community. We now have an area for interring cremated remains loosely into a Garden of Remembrance, which has as a central focus a variety of rose appropriately called “Peace”.

(In this new grassed section, ashes will simply be placed not in caskets but directly into the soil, and the names and dates of the deceased will be engraved on stone plaques fixed to the new Rose Garden wall. Under the agreed regulations, there won’t be any markers on the lawned area itself – as happens also at Macclesfield Cemetery Garden of Remembrance – so that this special area for interments will be able to accommodate far more interments in future than would be possible otherwise.)

William and Joan Mary Green were the first to have their cremated remains interred into the Rose Garden on 25 September 2015. The pictures show stonemason William Warrington fixing the first memorial to the adjacent Memorial Wall.

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Read more about the project to extend to the Columbarium here

Improving drainage in the Churchyard

Thanks to the generous support of Bollington Town Council, the much needed drainage works have now begun at the west end of St John’s Churchyard, to alleviate the flooded areas that build up after heavy rainfall and which have caused difficulties of access periodically over many years to those who seek to pay their respects to the memory of loved ones buried here.

The works are being carried out by our sexton Allen Stringer, strictly in accordance with our professional surveyor’s drawings, with the advice and approval of our church architect and of the Diocesan Advisory Committee, and with the kind permission of the Archdeacon of Macclesfield.

Bollington Town Council has agreed to fund two-thirds of the cost of these works, which leaves us with the difficult task of raising the remaining £1,500 ourselves.

Any contributions from interested parishioners will therefore be gratefully received, on the understanding that any surplus money thus raised will be paid into the general account of our Parochial Church Council and that it will be available for use in meeting some of the many other bills we regularly face, including those for maintenance and repair of our church fabric.

(Please see the link to our Giving page.)

Thank you for your support!
Revd. Canon Veronica Hydon (Vicar of Bollington)