Cemeteries and crematorium regulations

SectionTopic
Foreword
1Contact details and opening hours
2Grave types
3Grave measurements and depths
4Orientation of graves
5Grave preparation and backfilling
6Defined memorial areas, size and other specific restrictions
7Grave allocation and ownership
8Transfer of right of grave ownership (exclusive rights)
9Coffins
10Exhumation
11Disposal of cremated remains
12Erection and repair of memorials
13Other memorials (plaques, benches etc)
14Flowers and floral tributes
15General regulations relating to other items of memorabilia and Christmas wreaths (all areas of all cemeteries)
16Vehicles
17General rules and regulations
18Fees and charges
Appendix 1Framework for Enforcement of Rules & Regulations
Appendix 2Henley Road Cemetery Site Plan

Foreword

For the management, regulation and control of:

  • Henley Road Cemetery
  • Reading Crematorium and Gardens of Remembrance
  • Reading Cemetery (London Road)
  • Caversham Cemetery (Victoria Road)

Reading Borough Council welcomes all visitors to our cemeteries in Reading and asks that visitors respect the peace, dignity and reverence of these facilities as well as other users. We thank you in advance for your consideration.

The regulations in the following pages have been drawn up by Reading Borough Council to ensure that the Cemeteries and Gardens of Remembrance are managed and used in a sensitive and appropriate way for everybody. These are communal spaces for quiet reflection and
remembering our loved ones.

Although these regulations are a requirement for the management of the Cemeteries and Gardens, every effort has been made to avoid restricting the rights and choices of the individual. Therefore, these regulations have been prepared with a balance between individual rights/information and the need to regulate for safe and tidy grounds. For example, the restrictions on glass are based upon these items becoming potential hazards when mowers are used. It is not based upon aesthetic considerations.

The Council has adopted the principles of the Charter for the Bereaved and is committed to giving the individual the rights that are provided by the Charter. For further information contact the Cemetery Office or see the “Information” section of the Institute for Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM) website, http://www.iccm-uk.com/iccm/

Reading Borough Council under the Local Authorities’ Cemeteries Order 1977 is responsible for regulating three Cemeteries in the town. It is required by that Order to set out regulations to provide a safe and dignified environment for all visitors and can do anything considered necessary for the proper management of these Cemeteries. The cemeteries for which the
Council is responsible under these regulations are:

  • Henley Road Cemetery, All Hallows Road, Caversham.
  • Reading Cemetery, London Road, Reading.
  • Caversham Cemetery, Victoria Road, Caversham.

The office for all three Cemeteries is located just inside the main entrance gates at Henley Road Cemetery. This is where the Bereavement Services Manager can be contacted.

These Rules and Regulations will be formally reviewed every 3 years.

Legislation

There are a number of Acts of Parliament and Government Regulations which apply to burials and cremations and also to the way cemeteries are maintained. If there is any conflict between any of the above and the Cemetery Regulations then the above shall apply.

The legislation that some of the rules are based upon includes the following:

  • Cremation Acts 1902 and 1952
  • Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974
  • The Local Authorities Cemeteries Order 1977 SI 1977/204 (as amended)
  • Cremation Regulations 2008 SI 2008/2841
  • Environmental Protection Act 1990

Section 1 – Contact details and opening hours

Bereavement Services
Reading Borough Council
Reading Crematorium
All Hallows Road
Reading
RG4 5LP
Tel. 0118 947 2433
Email: cem.crem@reading.gov.uk

Opening hours:

Cemeteries grounds:

  • 1st October – 31st March: Every day 9am –5pm
  • 1st April 30th September: Every day 9am – 8pm

Cemetery Office:

  • Monday, Tues & Thursday – 8.30am – 5.00pm
  • Wednesday: 10.00am – 5.00pm
  • Friday: 8.30am – 4.30pm

Burials:

Burial services can take place at the following times:

  • In the Chapel – Monday to Friday, 10.00am – 2.30pm
  • At the graveside – Monday to Friday, 9.45am – 3.00pm
    (2.30pm – during December and January)

Burials at any other time are strictly at the discretion of the Bereavement Services Manager and subject to available resources.

Gates to the cemeteries are locked at the closing times shown and there is no facility to unlock them outside of these hours. Vehicles must not be left on the premises after closing time, as access to retrieve them will not be available until the following morning. Vehicles parked at any time are done so at the owners’ risk.

Section 2 – Grave types (including graves for cremated remains)

2.1     There are different types of grave available in different sections of the Henley Road Cemetery and these are shown in paragraph 2.3 below. The location of these graves is marked on plans available at the Cemeteries office. The Exclusive Right of Burial is purchased through the Cemetery office. (See Section 7).

2.2     Memorial stones and kerb sets are not provided and should be purchased through a registered memorial stonemason (see Section 12). Plaques can be purchased through the Cemetery Office. All memorial stones, kerb sets, and plaques must be approved by Reading Borough Council prior to purchase.  

2.3 Types of grave:

2.3.1 Traditional grave

This is a grave with a memorial stone and a kerb set that forms an edging around the grave area, in accordance with the maximum sizes shown in section 6.

The memorial stone could be a headstone or footstone. This will be determined by the location and position of the individual grave within the cemetery. Monuments, gravestones, tablets, inscribed vases or kerb railings may all be erected, subject to approval by the Bereavement Services Management

2.3.2 Lawn grave

This is a grave with a memorial stone, a small area for planting seasonal flowers immediately in front of the memorial stone and a grassed area level with the ground.

The memorial stone will be a either a headstone or footstone. This will be determined by the location and position of the individual grave.

2.3.3 Mounded graves

Mounded graves

This is a grave which has soil neatly piled on top of the grave at ground level and formed into a mound, no more than 300mm high. The mound will have a natural, slow growing sedum mat to protect and stabilise it. No further planting around or on the mound is permissible. 

The grave can have a memorial stone, which will be either a headstone or footstone*. This will be determined by the location and position of the individual grave.

Or

A flat tablet placed on the mound at the head of the grave. All new areas of the cemetery are laid to allow headstones only

2.3.4 Quran grave

This is a standard size grave lined with wooden shoring. The grave is securely covered, and a key is provided as and when families wish to place sacred scripts in the grave. These graves are available, but for Community purchase only. They are not available for individual purchase.

2.3.5 Walled or vaulted grave

This grave type is lined with bricks and slabs.

These graves are only available on request and a minimum of 10 days’ notice prior to the burial date is required. Please note that due to specific requirements for Muslim burials a small number of vault graves will be prebuilt.

This grave type is lined with bricks and slabs.

These graves are only available on request and a minimum of 10 days’ notice prior to the burial date is required. Please note that due to specific requirements for Muslim burials a small number of vault graves will be prebuilt.

Due to the building work required, availability is also dependent on the weather being suitable, to ensure stability of the grave.

2.3.6 Cremated Remains Flat Tablet Grave

This type of grave is only for cremated remains.

It has a memorial in the shape of a wedge tablet, and it can contain up to two sunken flower vases. No other memorial items may be left on this type of grave.

2.3.7 Cremated Remains Wedge Tablet Grave

This type of grave is only for cremated remains.

It has a memorial in the shape of a wedge tablet, and it can contain up to two sunken flower vases. No other memorial items may be left on this type of grave.

2.3.8 Unmarked graves

In keeping with legislation, Reading Borough Council makes provision for public or “common” graves at Henley Road Cemetery. Cremated remains cannot be buried in public graves. They will be scattered in the Gardens of Remembrance, and the location recorded. No memorial may be placed on any public grave.

Section 3 – Grave measurements and depths

3.1 Industry standards use both Metric & Imperial units depending on the use, therefore, to assist with understanding, both units of measurement have been included but please note:

Only measurements shown in BOLD are the official measurements and MUST be used for the purchase or use of a grave or memorial. Any other measurement is an approximate guide only.

3.2 Reading Borough Council cannot be held liable for any costs incurred or errors made when ordering memorial stones, kerb sets or plaques.     

3.3 Please note: The measurements below refer to the grave space and not the permitted memorial size.

Grave Type Measurement (Imperial) Measurement (Metric)
Traditional, Lawn and mounded graves 8 feet long x 4 feet wide
4 feet 6 inches deep for 1 burial*
6 feet 6 inches deep for 2 burials*
*This allows for standard size coffin depths, maximum 17 inches.
2400mm long x 1200mm wide 1300mm deep for 1 burial* 1900mm deep for 2 burials*
*This allows for standard size coffin depths, maximum 430mm.
Cremated remains: flat tablet graves. 35 inches long x 47 inches wide x 18 inches deep 900mm long x 1200mm wide x 450mm deep
Cremated remains: wedge tablet graves. 24 inches long x 18 inches wide x 18 inches deep 600mm long x 450mm wide x 450mm deep

Reading Borough Council reserves the right to change the maximum excavation depth if deemed necessary.

Section 4 – Orientation and location of graves

4.1 Traditionally, Reading Borough Council carries out burials so that all deceased face east. This does mean, on some lawn style grave sections, the memorial will be placed at the foot end of the grave, not at the head. All new areas of the cemetery (Westfield) will be laid to allow headstones only. Mayfield is laid to headstones only. 

4.2 Lawn Graves for Cremated Remains face East and West in alternate rows.

4.3 Each area in Henley Road Cemetery, which accommodate coffin burials, is designed to accommodate a specific grave type. With the exception of Mayfield and Westfield, the areas are no longer open for new burials, except for additional interments to existing graves.

  • Mayfield: This area is split into 4 sections. One for traditional graves and three for lawn graves. Please Note: Double size memorial stones and kerb sets are not permitted in this area.
  • Westfield: This area is for multi-faith/non-faith burials, however there is a section allocated for Muslim burials at one end. Lawn graves only are permitted within the multi-faith/non-faith section. Within the Muslim section, there will be an area for lawn graves and one for mounded and traditional graves.  

4.4 All areas are for multi-faith/non-faith burials, however in Park and Westfield, some sections are allocated for Muslim burials.

4.5 Please note, new graves in these areas are double depth to allow up to 2 loved ones to be buried in the same plot should the grave owner request this

Section 5 – Grave preparation and backfilling of graves

5.1 All excavation works, and backfilling will only be undertaken by staff or contractors appointed by Reading Borough Council who are trained to a recognised and accredited standard.

5.2 Where safe and possible to do so, Reading Borough Council will allow family to back-  fill the grave under the supervision of Cemetery staff or representatives, subject to the family complying fully with instructions.  

5.3 In the event of a family wishing to backfill the grave after the service, details must be included on the original notice of interment and the Cemetery office advised at the time of booking for the Risk Assessments and Health and Safety assessments to take place. 

5.4 Without exception, no-one under the age of 18 years old is permitted to backfill. 

Section 6 – Defined memorial areas, size and other specific restrictions

6.1 The Defined Memorial Area is the area provided in which memorials, personal planting and memorabilia may be placed. This area differs depending on grave or memorial type. See Section 15 for General Regulations applicable including memorabilia and planting.

6.1.1 Traditional graves

Traditional grave
  • The Defined Memorial Area 7 feet long x 3 feet wide (2100mm long x 900mm wide)
  • Monuments on Traditional graves must be within the following measurements. All measurements shown are the maximum allowed:
    • Kerb set/Memorial slab:
      7 feet long x 3 feet wide(2100mm x 900mm)
    • Kerb Height including cover slab:
      Maximum 8 inches (200mm) from ground level.
    • Memorial height: 4 feet (1200mm) from ground level
    • Memorial depth/thickness: 1 foot (300mm)
    • Memorial width: 3 feet (900mm)
  • Marble or other natural stone chippings, laid on a solid foundation, can only be used where there are memorial kerbs.
  • Personal planting (seasonal flowers only) or items of memorabilia are permitted within the dimensions of the Defined Memorial Area.
  • Items placed within the Defined Memorial Area may not exceed a height of 12 inches (300 mm).
  • Trees and shrubs are not permitted and will be removed at the discretion of the Bereavement Services Management.
  • Only full kerb sets approved by Reading Borough Council are allowed.  Borders or fencing of any other kind are not allowed.

6.1.2 Lawn graves

Lawn grave
  • Only memorial stones are permitted in lawn grave sections.  The location and position of the individual grave will determine if this is a headstone or footstone. This must be placed on the foundation plinth provided by the Council.
  • Memorial stones on lawn graves should be within the following measurements:
    • Memorial height 3 feet (900mm) from ground level
    • Memorial depth/thickness 1 foot (300mm)
    • Memorial width 3 feet (900mm)
  • Personal planting (seasonal flowers only) or items of memorabilia are permitted in a small area in front of the memorial stone but must not exceed a height of 12 inches (300mm).
  • The personal planting/memorabilia area must be no wider than the base of the memorial stone and a maximum of 2 feet (600mm) long, measured from the edge of the upright headstone (not the foundation stone).
  • If the personal planting/memorabilia area is not tended, Reading Borough Council reserves the right to seed or turf the area.
  • As soon as possible after the funeral, usually within a 12-month period, Reading Borough Council will either sow grass seed or turf over the grave.

6.1.3 Mounded graves

  • The Defined Memorial Area 7 feet long x 3 feet wide
    (2100mm long x 900mm wide)
  • Mounds must not exceed 300mm high. Only soil provided by Reading Borough Council is to be used.
  • The mound is created with a natural living cover, no further planting is allowed.
  • The natural living cover will be maintained by the Council to ensure it remains fit for purpose.
  • The grave can have a memorial stone, which will be a either a headstone or footstone. This will be determined by the location and position of the individual grave.
  • Memorial stones on mounded graves should be within the following measurements:
    • Memorial height 3 feet (900mm) from ground level
    • Memorial depth/thickness 1 foot (300mm)
    • Memorial width 3 feet (900mm)
  • A flat tablet, rather than a memorial stone, may be placed at the head of the grave.
  • The flat tablet must not exceed 12 inches wide x 6 inches long
    (300mm long x 150mm wide) and approval for the tablet must be obtained from the Bereavement Services Manager.

6.1.4 Cremated Remains: Wedge Tablet Grave

Cremated Remains: Wedge Tablet Grave
  • Provision is made for the interment of two standard size caskets of Cremated Remains. A maximum of 12 x 9 x 6½ inches. (300mm x 228mm x 165mm). If larger caskets are used there may only be space for one interment.
  • Only memorials in the shape of a Wedge Tablet may be installed.
  • The tablet shall be of natural quarried stone, with facilities for one or two sunken flower vases at the thicker end.
  • Tablet measurements must not exceed:
    • Wedge tablet maximum length – 18 inches (457mm)
    • Wedge tablet maximum width – 15 inches (381mm)
    • Wedge tablet maximum height (thick end) – 6 inches (152mm)
    • Wedge tablet maximum height (thin end) 3 inches (76mm)
  • The tablet must be placed on the foundation stone provided by the Council, set at ground level, measuring a minimum of: 24 inches length x 18 inches wide x 2 inches thick (600mm x 457mm x 50mm)
  • The memorial is placed 3 inches (76mm) from the rear of the foundation stone and at equal distance at both sides.
  • A double row of memorials will be placed ‘back to back’ with grass pathways separating each double row.  
  • Only fresh cut and artificial flowers can be placed in the vase(s) in the memorial.
  • No other memorial item may be left on or near these graves.

6.1.5 Cremated Remains Lawn Graves

  • Memorial stones should be erected in an upright position close to the outer edge of the plot and in line with the memorials of adjoining graves.  
  • Memorial stones on Cremated Remains Lawn Graves should be within the following measurements:
    • Memorial height 3 feet (900mm)     
    • Memorial thickness 4 inches (100mm)
    • Memorial width 2 feet (600mm)     
    • Memorial Base width 2 feet (600mm)
    • Memorial Base thickness 4 inches (100mm)
    • Memorial Base depth 1 foot (300mm)
  • Graves in the cremated remains lawn sections should be level with the ground.
  • Personal planting (seasonal flowers only) or items of memorabilia are permitted in a small area in front of the memorial stone, measuring:
    8 inches long x 2 feet wide (200mm wide x 600mm long) (The Defined Memorial Area)
  • Items placed within the Defined Memorial Area may not exceed a height of 12 inches (300 mm).

6.2 Subject to weather and seasonal changes Reading Borough Council, will keep all grassed areas tidy. Mounded graves will also be maintained by the Council. Any memorials or kerb sets will not be cleaned or maintained by the Council, these are the responsibility of the owner.

6.3 In addition to the above Grave types, alternate memorials are available:

Other Memorials Defined Memorial Area Dimensions
Bronze Kerb Plaque in Gardens of Remembrance Behind memorial plaque 12 inches long x 6 inches wide
(300mm long x 150mm wide)
Vase blocks in the Central Square, Gardens of Remembrance Behind the vase block, up to the kerb stone edge.   12 inches long x 7 ½ inches wide
(300mm long x 190mm wide)
Any other memorial (including new memorial options) Will be specified in the terms & conditions for that specific memorial Will be specified in the terms & conditions for that specific memorial

Section 7 – Grave allocation and ownership

7.1 The grave spaces are used in strict consecutive order or as required by the Bereavement Services Management. Selection of a grave space is not possible.

7.2 No grave may be pre-purchased by any person or Group for future use, to ensure the usable life of the cemetery is prolonged to ensure burial space for the future.

7.3 Double depth graves allow for loved ones to be buried together, however it is not possible to purchase additional plots adjacent to each other. The fee for a double depth must be paid at the time of the first interment.

7.4 Any person over the age of eighteen may purchase the Exclusive Right of Burial for a period of seventy-five years. The period of seventy-five years falls within the legal limit of 100 years which is the maximum that burial rights can be purchased under current legislation in England and Wales. Upon expiry of the seventy-five years, the lease can be renewed if the family wish. The standard fee is payable.

7.5 The fee for the Exclusive Right of Burial must be paid at the time that the arrangements are made at the Cemetery Office and a Grave Deed will be issued to the Grave Owner soon after.

7.6 The Deed will confirm the number of burials permitted within the grave. The Deed does not mean the Grave Owner owns the land. The Deed means the Grave Owner owns the Right to Bury, but only for the seventy-five-year term.  The land remains in the ownership of Reading Borough Council.

7.7 It is the Grave Owner’s responsibility to let the Cemetery Office know of any change of address.

Section 8 – Transfer of right of grave ownership (exclusive rights)

8.1 A transferred ‘Right of Ownership’ to a grave is only valid if it has been registered and agreed by the Cemetery Office.

8.2 It is advisable that once the Grave Owner has been interred within the grave, arrangements are made for the transfer of ownership. No further burials, interments of cremated remains, scattering of cremated remains, additional inscriptions on memorials or installation of new memorials will be permitted until entitled ownership has been established.  

8.3 In cases where the original purchaser is deceased, the new owner must demonstrate ownership of the grave by producing a) A valid Will, b) Grant of Probate, c) Letters of Administration or d) if the others are missing, a completed Statutory Declaration witnessed by a Commissioner of Oaths e.g. Solicitor (please contact office for more details).

8.4 A fee is charged for accepting this documentation which must be paid at the time the form is presented at the Cemetery office. The form will be retained at the Cemetery Office as a permanent record of the instruction to authorise the grave to be opened and any alterations made.  

8.5 The number of joint owners will be limited to three and any change of circumstances, will require the agreement of all joint owners. Where one of the owners passes away, ownership is retained by the remaining two, however, a copy of the death certificate will be required.

Section 9: Coffins

9.1 Where the burial is in an earth grave, the body must be placed in a wooden, cardboard or wicker coffin, casket or shroud.  If the burial is to be in a brick lined grave or vault, the body should be placed in an airtight inner case of lead or zinc and covered with an outer wooden shell.  

9.2 Coffins used for cremation must comply with the requirements of the Federation of British Cremation Authorities. https://www.fbca.org.uk/

9.3 The Funeral Director in charge of the funeral should arrange for at least FOUR people to carry the coffin to the chapel and graveside.  It is the responsibility of the Funeral Director to increase the number of bearers’ subject to Health and Safety considerations.  

Section 10 – Exhumation

10.1 Once a body or cremated remains have been buried, they can only be removed with permission from the Bereavement Services Management and a licence granted by the Ministry of Justice. In the case of consecrated ground, consent from the Church of England (called a faculty) will also be required.

10.2 Any disturbance of remains is deemed to be an exhumation.

Section 11: Disposal of cremated remains

11.1 Each individual set of cremated remains will be reduced and placed in a container to await the wishes of the applicant regarding its final disposal.

11.2 Where specifically requested, cremated remains can be held at the Crematorium, for a period not exceeding three months. A charge will be made after the initial month.

11.3 In respect of any set of cremated remains left at the crematorium and not removed by the end of the three month period. Two weeks’ notice will be given to the applicant for cremation, after which the cremated remains may be reverently and permanently scattered in the grounds allocated for that purpose.

11.4 All metals remaining after cremation, including orthopaedic implants will be sensitively recycled. This is to ensure that all metals are disposed of in a suitable manner that will reduce the impact on our environment, and to comply with current legislation. It is possible to have metal remains returned if requested prior to cremation.

11.5 The Central Square in the Gardens of Remembrance and other locations as specified from time to time by the Bereavement Services Management are not to be used for the scattering of cremated remains. This is to maintain the ecology and landscaping in the grounds.

11.6 All scatterings of cremated remains are to be organised through the office.

11.7 Scatterings can only take place on graves with the written permission of the grave owner.

Section 12 – Erection and repair of memorials

12.1 Only Memorial and Stonemasons registered with and fixing to the standards of BRAMM (British Register of Accredited Memorial Masons) or NAMM (National Association of Memorial Masons) and Reading Borough Council’s Registration Scheme are permitted to erect memorials within the cemeteries and churchyards administered by the authority. This also applies to memorials being re-instated after their removal to permit an interment or additional works to be carried out.

12.2 Work may only be carried out by masons with a valid ‘fixers’ licence.

12.3 The identification number of each grave must be included at the foot of all monuments, gravestones or ledger stones on private graves.

12.4 All new memorials shall be subject to a Permit not exceeding 30 years and linked to the memorial masons’ guarantees. During this period the memorial shall be subject to testing to ensure stability. Tests will be carried out every five years or sooner and in accordance to a nationally recognised standard. 

12.5 Should a memorial fail a safety test, the cemetery management, in accordance with health and safety requirements, will make the memorial safe under the terms of the Memorial Safety Policy.

12.6 Where Grave Owners can be identified, Reading Borough Council will notify the Grave Owner(s) of a failed Memorial safety test in writing. The Grave Owner will be requested to arrange for the Memorial to be made safe within a specific time period. Where the Council are unable to trace the grave owner, or the Grave Owner fails to respond, the Council reserve the right to make safe the Memorial by using the ‘socketing’ method. Socketing involves the Memorial stone being lowered into the ground to reduce the height to a safe level.

12.7 Details of the NAMM Code of Working Practice, the British Register of Accredited Memorial Masons and the Local Authorities’ Cemeteries Order 1977 are available from the Cemetery office upon request. (https://www.namm.org.uk)

12.8 Work can only be carried out in the cemeteries Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 4.00pm. No work is to be carried out on weekends or Bank Holidays.  All contractors must report to the office before working on site.

12.9 The Bereavement Services Management must be contacted before fixing or erecting any monument or memorial, with details of the measurements and design, a copy of the proposed inscription, and a sample or specification of the material to be used. 

12.10 Monuments may only be erected on a grave for which the exclusive right of burial has been purchased. Erection or removal of monuments and memorials must be done only after an officer from Reading Borough Council has been on site with the applicant to agree the location and type of work to be carried out.  

12.11 Material for the memorials should be natural stone such as Portland, Granite, Marble or Hopton wood.

12.12 Wood memorials (cross or headstone) are permitted, provided they are fixed by a professional “fixer” approved by Reading Borough Council to standards as above, and come from verifiable sustainable sources.

12.13  A permit is required for any work to be carried out on a memorial.  A fee is payable for the permit and must be paid in full at the time of application.

12.14  Restriction on Memorial Inscriptions:
Where the Grave Owner requires an inscription to be in any language other than English, a full translation shall be supplied to the Cemetery Office, prior to any works being carried out.  

12.15  Masons who wish to add their names to memorials or monuments must follow the guidelines below:

  • a) the inscription should be limited to the name of the stonemason only
  • b) the letters should be no more than ½ an inch in height (12.7mm)
  • c) the inscription should be on the base of the memorial or monument at a maximum height of 6 inches (152mm) above ground level.

12.16  Foundations:  
It is the responsibility of the Mason to ensure the memorial is fixed to adequate foundations as recommended by the NAMM Code of Working Practice. The authority cannot accept any responsibility for any foundation supplied unless the memorial has been fixed in accordance with the NAMM Code.

12.17  Removal of memorials for burials:  
If a memorial needs to be removed from the cemetery to allow a burial to take place, this should be done by an approved memorial stonemason who should ensure that it is re-fixed within 12 months.

Section 13 – Other memorials (plaques, benches etc)

13.1 A full list of memorial options is available at the Cemetery Office.  This includes plaques, vases, benches, trees, Book of Remembrance entries.  Other memorial options and areas may become available over time at the Henley Road Cemetery and Crematorium.

13.2 Memorial benches are available from time to time through a lease agreement.  It is not permitted to place any other bench in the Cemetery or Gardens of Remembrance. Bench locations are at the discretion of the Bereavement Services Management. 

13.3 Memorial trees are available from time to time through a lease agreement. It is not permitted to place or plant any other tree in the Cemetery or Gardens of Remembrance.

13.4 All Regulations apply to the Memorial Garden as to other areas of the Cemetery and Gardens of Remembrance. 

13.5 The defined memorial area for any new memorials offered for lease, will be specified in the terms and conditions for that memorial.

Section 14 – Flowers and floral tributes

14.1 Following a funeral service, floral tributes should be placed in front of the appropriate named stand in the display area outside either the West or South Chapel.  Any tributes left elsewhere will be removed. 

14.2 Floral tributes from funeral services, if not collected by the Funeral Director, will be removed and disposed of three days after the funeral service by the Cemeteries staff.

14.3 Fresh cut flowers may be placed in the receptacles provided in the Hall of Memory.  No floral tributes, pot plants or other items may be left in this area.

14.4 All wrappings should be removed and disposed of in the bins provided.

14.5 All perished floral tributes and cut flowers will be removed by Cemeteries staff at their discretion.

14.6 Reading Borough Council cannot be held responsible for any floral tributes that cannot be found.  Floral tributes are left at the family’s own risk.

Section 15 – General regulations relating to other items of memorabilia and Christmas wreaths (all areas of all cemeteries)

15.1 All graves and memorials have a Defined Memorial Area (except Cremated Remains Wedge Tablet Grave). Defined Memorial Areas for each grave type have been specified in Section 6.

15.2 On Cremated Remains Wedge Tablet Graves, only fresh cut and artificial flowers are permitted in the sunken vases.  No other item is permitted on or nearby these graves.

15.3 In the Gardens of Remembrance the defined memorial area for plaques is 6 inches wide by 12 inches long. (150mm wide x 300mm long)

15.4 In the Central Square in the Gardens of Remembrance the defined memorial area for vase blocks is 7 ½ inches wide by 12 inches long, (190mm wide x 300mm long) as defined by the kerb stone located behind the vase block.

15.5 Only artificial flowers, fresh cut flowers and seasonal flowers in pots are permitted in the defined memorial area behind vase blocks in the Central Square.  This is to maintain the original design concept for the Square, providing a formal and attractive place for remembrance.

15.6 Items placed within the Defined Memorial Area may not exceed a height of 12 inches (300 mm).

15.7 The following items are not permitted anywhere within the Cemetery or Gardens of Remembrance:

  • Any item overlapping or outside the defined memorial area
  • Any glass items, including vases
  • Food and drink of any kind is not permitted as it attracts vermin.
  • Helium balloons as these exceed the maximum height permitted for memorials a (see section 6) and when deflated become dangerous to wildlife.
  • Chippings, pebbles and stones (except within a full kerb set on a traditional grave)
  • Fencing, edging or borders of any kind around or within a defined memorial space
  • Any item deemed to be offensive, dangerous or unbefitting of a cemetery  

15.8 Any such items will be removed by Cemetery staff at their discretion and without the need for prior notice to the Grave Owner. 

15.9 It is not permitted to plant shrubs or trees anywhere in the Cemetery or Gardens of Remembrance.  These will grow to a large size, produce roots which unbalance headstones and cause additional maintenance and cost.

15.10 Weathered artificial flowers or mementos (e.g. wet and discoloured soft toys, such as teddy bears) will be removed at the discretion of the Bereavement Services Management.

15.11 Grass cutting and maintenance may not be carried out around plots which do not conform to regulations in terms of size or what is put on and around them.

15.12 The Grave Owner may be liable if items on or around a memorial, which are in breach of regulations, cause injury to persons or damage to machinery.

15.13 It is not permitted to hang any item on trees within the Cemetery or Gardens of Remembrance, as this may damage the tree or and frighten off wildlife.

15.14 Planting (seasonal flowers only) is only permitted within the personal Defined Memorial Area (see Section 6). Planting anything, in any other location is prohibited and the items will be removed at the discretion of the Bereavement Services Manager.

15.15  Christmas wreaths may be placed within the Defined Memorial Area (see section 6), and on the Lych gate fencing during the Christmas period.  Wreaths will be removed from 1 February onwards.

15.16  All other Christmas decorations will be removed after 7 January.

15.17  The Council does not accept any encroachment into common areas or on to other graves by any individual(s). Any contravention of this will result in any items found to be outside of the Defined Memorial Area being removed.    

15.18  The Council reserves the right to periodically request the removal of all items placed from behind or on memorials, or from trees and shrubs, having initially given the owner of the memorial lease an opportunity to do so themselves. The Grave Owner is required to adhere to this request by the deadline specified in the Notification.   Where no response is received from the Grave Owner by the deadline date, the Council reserves the right to proceed with the removal of items.

15.19  The requirement to give prior notice to the Grave Owner does not apply where the items may cause offence to others, are dangerous, cause a health and safety risk, are unbefitting of a cemetery, encroach on areas where burials or scatterings may have taken place, exceed the defined memorial area, or where planting may grow to an unacceptable size.  

15.20  The Council will adhere to the published Enforcement framework (see Appendix 1) which details how infringements will be dealt with including time frames and storage information.

15.21  The Council reserves the right not to renew memorial leases where leaseholders are in regular infringement of regulations.

Section 17 – Vehicles

16.1 If a funeral procession is to be led by any vehicle other than a motor driven funeral hearse, permission should be obtained from the Bereavement Services Management, to ensure this can be accommodated. This includes, but is not limited to, horse-drawn hearses, gun carriages and other vehicles of this type.

16.2 Vehicles must not be left unattended for long periods of time in the cemeteries. 

16.3 No unauthorised vehicle is to be left in front of the chapels.

16.4 Vehicles are not allowed in the cemetery beyond the main car parking area, except for vehicles displaying a disability badge, funeral directors and approved contractors. This is to provide a vehicle-free environment for pedestrians.

16.5 The maximum speed limit within the Cemetery grounds is 10 miles an hour. 

16.6 Driving or parking on grassed areas or pathways between sections of the cemetery is not permitted, unless under exceptional circumstances when it is agreed by the Bereavement Services Manager. 

16.7 All vehicles are parked at the Owners own risk.  

Section 17 – General rules and regulations

17.1 Children under the age of 14 years must be accompanied by a responsible adult when visiting the cemetery.

17.2 Only Assistance dogs, such as guide dogs are allowed in the cemetery.

17.3 Search of the Burial Register:
Reading Borough Council may charge a fee for a search of the burial register held at the Cemetery Office (For more detailed information, see the current list of fees and charges or contact the Cemetery Office).

17.4   Official Plan   
A plan of the cemetery, showing the position of every grave is kept at the cemetery office and is freely accessible for everyone to use.

17.5   Photography and filming  
Photography and filming are prohibited without prior consent from the Bereavement Services Management. Permission is not guaranteed. 

17.6   Families or a representative of a family however, may photograph an individual memorial.

17.7   The Authority reserves the right to charge for any commercial filming that may take place within the site

17.8   Risk:
All persons entering the cemetery do so at their own risk. The Council shall not be liable for any injury or damage sustained, regardless of the form of action, whether in contract, tort (including negligence or breach of statutory duty), strict liability or otherwise, except in respect of personal injury or death of any person caused by the Council’s negligence.

17.9   As above, the Council shall not be liable for personal property brought on to the site or for any damage or loss of memorials or memorabilia. This includes any damage or loss to flowers.  

17.10  Damage to land and premises
Reading Borough Council will hold any individual(s) responsible for any damage caused to cemetery land, walls, flower beds, lawns or premises by any cause whatsoever, including where the individual(s) have exceeded what regulations permit in terms of memorials and memorabilia. Any costs of repairing the damage may be passed on to the individual(s) involved.

17.11  No person shall trade any goods or services within any of the cemeteries except with the permission of the Bereavement Services Management.

17.12  Visitors to the Cemetery must conduct themselves in a quiet and orderly manner and must keep to the roads and pathways clear, except when visiting graves.

17.13  All persons admitted to the cemetery will be subject to the directions of the Bereavement Services Management and any person infringing the Regulations may be removed from the cemetery.

17.14  The use of drones is not permitted within the cemetery grounds unless for legitimate and operational reasons. In all circumstances, permission must be obtained from the Bereavement Services Management prior to use. Any costs to repair damage caused by the drone to any property, including memorials, within the cemetery grounds will be the responsibility of the individual involved.

17.15  The Council may at any time vary, alter or revoke any of the foregoing Rules and Procedures.

The Rules and Regulations will be reviewed every 3 years, however the Council may, at any time vary, alter or revoke any of the foregoing Rules and Procedures.

Adopted September 2021

Section 18 – Fees and charges

A list of the fees and charges for services provided is available on the Reading Borough Council website and from the Cemetery Office. All payments must be made in advance. 

Reading Cemeteries and Crematorium Regulations – Appendix 1

Framework for enforcement of Rules & Regulations

Introduction

The Public Consultation undertaken in 2021 identified that customers were keen for the Rules and Regulations to be enforced fairly, consistently and in a timely manner to ensure that the grounds were kept safe and tidy.   The Council consulted widely with residents, memorial owners, families of the bereaved and other stakeholders about amending the Rules and Regulations that apply to Reading Cemeteries and Crematorium.  Revisions were made to support the implementation of the Charter for the Bereaved by offering more choice, whilst giving the Service the regulatory framework necessary to ensure a safe and dignified environment for all visitors, which is sympathetic to the landscape. The Enforcement Framework has been updated following the consultation.

This Enforcement Framework forms part of the Rules and Regulations as an Appendix.  It makes clear how the Council intends to deal with any infringement of the Regulations and how this will be communicated to the person(s) concerned.  

The Council recognises the importance of memorials to families after a bereavement and therefore any action to enforce Regulations will be taken in a sensitive and measured way. 

Principles behind Enforcement Framework

The underlying principles behind the Enforcement Framework are:

  • to ensure equal treatment for all;
  • to ensure it is clear to everyone what will happen if Regulations are infringed;
  • to ensure a safe and dignified environment for all visitors.

The Enforcement Framework

The Bereavement Services Management will 

  1. Prioritise areas of the grounds where the most infringements of Regulations are taking place.  
  2. Put up public notices in and near the area to be addressed.
  3. Put up public notices in the Cemetery Office.
  4. Public notices will specify the following:
    • Precisely what area is to be addressed
    • Date the notice is put up
    • Date the notice period ends
    • Defined memorial area where personal items may be placed
    • Items that are not allowed
    • What will happen to any items infringing the Regulations
    • How to contact the Bereavement Services Management
  5. A notice period of 6 weeks will be specified.
  6. Where records are available and considered to be in date, letters will be sent to all memorial owners in the area to be addressed, clearly stating that any items infringing Rules & Regulations need to be removed within the 6 week notice period.  Information included will be identical to that on the public notices. 
  7. After the specified time period has expired any remaining items that infringe regulations will be removed with the utmost care and sensitivity.
  8. Where possible removed items will be put in individual labelled bags and stored for 12 months.
  9. After 12 months, any individual labelled bags of items not collected will be disposed of.
  10. Any plants, trees or shrubs will be labelled and retained for collection where possible.
  11. When it is not possible to remove any plant, tree or shrub without damaging it, it will be disposed of with other green waste at the cemetery.
  12. Any memorial owner with concerns should address these to the Bereavement Services Management for consideration
  13. If a memorial owner wishes to make a formal complaint about the removal of personal items, this will be dealt with through the council’s complaint procedure.

The above enforcement framework will not apply where items must be removed immediately because they may cause offence to others, are dangerous, cause a health and safety risk, are unbefitting of a cemetery, encroach on areas where burials or scatterings may have taken place, exceed the defined memorial area, or where planting may grow to an unacceptable size.  

Reading Cemeteries and Crematorium Regulations – Appendix 2

Map of Henley Road Cemetery and Reading Crematorium