‘God’s Acre’ in Rusper

Childrens’ Easter Garden in Saint Mary Magdalene’s Church


Our churchyard is a place of peace for those mourning the loss of loved ones, a sanctuary for nature and wildlife and a physical reminder of the Christian faith in the Resurrection and the hope of paradise. It is regularly tended while wild growth in some areas is encouraged.

How can you help us to maintain these elements that keep this space a Godly garden, that speaks to and comforts all who make use of it?


Bereavement is a journey that people take in a variety of ways and we must respect the time and space of others going through this process. Increasingly we also seek to be environmentally aware and make sure that all are safe in the churchyard. Fashions change in mourning as in every aspect of life and it should be borne in mind that styles of memorial which may once have been common are no longer allowed by the Chancellor of the Diocese of Chichester by whose Directions the Rector and PCC are bound.


In General

For these reasons there are a number of guidelines we ask you to follow.

Strictly speaking the only adornments  on graves should be fresh cut flowers. Suitable bulbs and seasonal flowers may be planted in the earth. The only artificial flowers permitted are Remembrance poppies. Remembrance crosses are also allowed.

We do understand the frustration that fresh flowers are sometimes eaten by deer and rabbits and that not everyone is able to replace them frequently, but artificial flowers can be a hazard to wildlife and soonbegin to look tired and depressing. Experience shows that the deer are not partial to daffodils or Sweet Williams.

Plastic containers, cellophane wrappers, balloons and solar lights are a hazard to to wildlife and to maintenance and should not be used.

Sunken containers for flowers are permitted.

Please do not introduce glass into the churchyard. It breaks easily and in a dry summer has been known to start a fire to which the Fire Brigade had to be called.

We do understand that thoughts are with departed loved ones at Christmas in particular and that seasonal decorations have become common.

In this instance we request they are removed after the Christmas period. The problem in general with tributes and other items, as well as impeding maintenance, especially in the Remembrance Garden is that they do sometimes encroach on other memorials and are not welcome to other mourners who wish to visit.


Above all we ask for sensitivity and respect for nature and for fellow mourners. Please remember that you can talk to Nick our Rector at any time about matters of loss and grief and if there is anything unclear or a cause of upset then please talk to him to avoid any misunderstanding. We value your help and are always looking for voluntary assistance at our annual churchyard clear up in the Autumn.










A temporary brass plaque bearing the name and dates of the deceased may be affixed to a cross, to be removed upon the erection of a permanent memorial.


Permanent Memorials

When you are choosing a suitable way of remembering a loved one we hope some information in advance about these directions may be helpful, before you choose how to proceed. These arrangements must be made with a reputable stonemason who will liaise with the Rector, since the Chancellor has the legal power to order the removal with costs of a memorial that does not adhere to these specifications and the grief that such a process causes must be avoided. A headstone is a public statement about the person who is being commemorated. Making the right choice of stone, design and inscription is important not only to the relatives or friends who are going to provide the memorial, but also to the wider community because of the effect which the headstone may have upon the appearance of the churchyard. Sculpture or statues are not discouraged but must be authorised by faculty, a form of authorisation similar to secular planning permission, before changes are made.


To be encouraged are inscriptions which give a flavour of the life of the person commemorated rather than simply recording a name and dates. Epitaphs should honour the dead, comfort the living and inform posterity. They will be read long after the bereaved have themselves passed away. Passages of scripture, which have a timeless quality, are to be preferred.

Stones should be no more than 4ft nor less than 2ft 6in high (1200mm, 750mm) No more than 3ft nor less than 1ft 8in wide (900mm, 500mm);No more than 6in nor less than 3in thick (150mm, 75mm), unless slate is to be used in which case a thickness of 2in (50mm) is permitted;

In the case of infant burials, headstones must be no less than 2ft x 1ft 3in x 2in (600mm x 375mm x 50mm).

A base forming an integral part of the design of a headstone may be included, provided it does not project more then 2in (50mm) beyond the headstone in any direction and provided that it is fixed on a foundation on slab of an approved material which itself is fixed flush with the ground and extending 3in to 5in (75mm to 125mm) all round so that a mower may freely pass over it.  If desired, the base may include the provision of a socket to receive a vase, in which case it may extend by up to 7in (175mm) forward of the headstone.

Horizontal Ledgers should be either flush with the turf or raised not more than 9in (225) above a base, extending not less than 3in (75mm) all round and itself flush with the turf; inclusive measurements not more than 7ft (2100mm) by 3ft (900mm)

Limestone:      Portland,  Purbeck, Derbyshire, Hopton Wood, Horton, Nabresina, Caen/Normandy

Sandstone:      York

Slate:   Blue/Black (Cornish), Grey/Blue (Welsh) Green (Westmoreland)

Granite: Light to medium grey. Polished stone or mirror finish is not permitted.  Neither is coloured lettering generally allowed.

Photographs, portraits or representations of objects or motifs such as toys, are not to be used.  Badges, crests or emblems may be used provided they are seemly and appropriate for the deceased, but should not be on metal or ceramic inserts. Kerbs, railings, fencing or chippings are no longer introduced as these create difficulty or danger when mowing.