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.