Churchyard Rules Cause upset to Stourport resident
26th September 2008
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A FATHER has defied church leaders after he was ordered to move a memorial from his son's grave.

Henry Doe says he will not remove flowers and statues from St Mary's Church, Crossway Green, near Stourport-on-Severn.

Relatives were told to remove kerbstones, fencing and other features around graves that contravene official guidelines produced by the chancellor of the diocese.

Notices put up at the graveyard by church authorities warn that if objects are not removed, they will be placed at the back of the church for three months and then disposed of if no one claims them.

But Mr Doe, who keeps his memorials contained within a small plot in front of his son's grave, vowed to put them straight back if they are removed.

Mr Doe, of Watery Lane, Stourport, lost his son Henry Thomas in November 2004. He was electrocuted by cables, aged 26.

Mr Doe, aged 52, said: "If they moved the memorials I would be upset about it but I would put them straight back again. I can't see why these rules are there. It's doing no harm. I'm willing to take this to court if I have to. I have been told to move all of it. I wasn't allowed to have any of it. I did it without permission."

Mr Doe said he felt that leaving notices in the churchyard was not the best way to contact people, especially as many were regular visitors and could have been told face-to-face.

Mr Doe's friend John Holland, of Sandy Lane, Stourport, was also angered by the notices.

His father James who died following a stroke in Jult 1990, is buried in the same cemetery. His grave also has flowers and figurines, including an angel and horses.

Mr Holland, aged 55, said: "My mother is so upset she hasn't even been over to the grave. I wouldn't stand there and let somebody touch my father's grave."

Peter Kerr, vicar of St Mary's, said: "We can understand the upset caused at finding the notice by these families. However, it was important that we communicated changes in the guidelines set out by the Church of England to ensure that the churchyard remains a place of peace and tranquillity for everyone to use.

"It is difficult for us to contact all the friends and family who tend the graves, so notices, along with an article in our parish magazine, seemed a sensible way forward. The notices suggested individuals contacted the churchwardens if they had any queries."

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