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Cemetery memorials

If you are planning to have a memorial placed on a grave, there are a number of things that you need to know.

Important points

Contact the council before installing any type of memorial on a grave.

We recommend that you wait at least one year after the burial before installing a memorial so that the ground has time to settle.

Your memorial is your responsibility - insure it.

Memorials may have to be removed for subsequent burials. This will incur additional costs to those funerals. This is particularly the case with kerb surrounds, and so it may be advisable to wait until all of the burials in the grave have occurred before installing them.

Memorials can be unstable and it is recommended that at all times you and your family members, particularly children, should avoid coming into contact with other memorials while in the cemetery.

Repairs to memorials, other than decorative surrounds, should only be carried out by the monumental stonemasons who are registered with us. Here is the list of registered monumental stonemasons.

Using a stonemason

Most people use the services of a monumental stonemason when installing a memorial. They can give you advice on which type of memorial to choose, as restrictions apply in certain sections of the cemeteries. See Lawned / Unlawned sections for more information about these restrictions.

Before a memorial can be placed on a grave it must first be approved by the council. The stonemason will obtain permission on your behalf by submitting an application form to the council and paying the appropriate cemetery fee. They will recoup the fee from you. Here is the full list of Cemetery Memorial Fees

The council runs a registration scheme for all the monumental stonemasons who work within its cemeteries. This is to ensure that they all work to agreed standards and conduct themselves in a professional manner when dealing with their customers.

Many monumental stonemasons are members of The National Association of Memorial Masons (NAMM), who have their own code of ethics, business and working practice. The council recognises the standards set by this organisation as part of the basis for its own registration scheme.

It is also advised that you seek a guarantee of workmanship from the monumental mason you appoint. Furthermore, your memorial is your responsibility so we strongly suggest that you insure it.

Here is the list of registered monumental stonemasons.

Can I do the work myself?

It is essential that our cemeteries are safe places for people to come and pay their respects. Our monumental stonemason registration scheme ensures that the work undertaken in the cemeteries meets the national minimum standards.

However, families can also install their own memorials but are restricted to:

  • wooden crosses
  • stone vases
  • decorative surrounds

If you wish to place one of these memorials on a grave it must be approved by the council. It is therefore essential that you contact the council prior to placing the memorial, otherwise the council has the right to remove it without informing you.

You will be required to submit an application form to the council and pay the appropriate cemetery fee. Here is the full list of Cemetery Memorial Fees. Once your application has been approved, we will send you a permit so you can proceed with the work.

What types of memorials are authorised?

The Lawned Sections in our cemeteries are listed below.

  • Harton Cemetery - sections five, nine, ten and eleven
  • Jarrow Cemetery - sections fifteen and seventeen
  • Boldon Cemetery - section F
  • Whitburn Cemetery - section D
  • Hebburn Cemetery - none
  • Westoe Cemetery - none

Unlawned sections

Lawned sections 

Memorial stone / tablet / vase)

max width 3ft 11" [1194mm]

no max height

Memorial stone / tablet / vase)

max width 3ft 11" [1194mm]

max height 3ft

Stone kerb surround (installed by a professional stonemason)

max length 8ft [2439mm]

max width 3ft 11" [1194mm]

Stone kerb surround (installed by a professional stonemason)

max length 3ft [915mm] from the back of grave

max width 3ft 11" [1194mm]

Decorative surround (installed by the family)

max length 8ft [2439mm]

max width 3ft 11" [1194mm]

Decorative surround (installed by the family)

max length 3ft [2439mm] from the back of grave

max width 3ft 11" [1194mm]

Wooden cross

Max height 3ft [915mm]

Wooden cross

Max height 3ft [915mm]

Unpurchased graves are restricted to a wooden cross or a memorial stone (not in excess of 12" x 12") only.

Memorial safety

All memorials are owned by and are the responsibility of the grave owner. However, it is essential that our cemeteries are safe places for people to come and pay their respects. The council has an obligation to make safe any memorials that are found to be in an unsafe/unstable condition. We must be responsible and take action to deal with any memorial that poses a threat to the public - we sincerely hope people understand that. People have been hurt, even killed in the past, as a result of dangerous memorials and we cannot let that happen in South Tyneside.

The council is currently undertaking a safety inspection process, occurring on an approximate 5 year cycle. All memorials will be subjected to a stability test and where it is necessary we will temporarily make safe, lay down, cordon off or remove a memorial. All due care and sensitivity will be observed.

In 2010 we started to reinstate the memorials that we had laid down (those that had not already been reinstated by families). Eventually all such memorials will be fixed by us.

We appreciate some people may be unhappy about what we are having to do and we apologise sincerely if this causes any upset. We do understand how difficult it can be for families to see a memorial to a loved one laid flat and we want to help people deal with unsafe memorials as quickly as possible. Please contact us if you wish to discuss what is happening or you need further information.

Memorial Mason Registration Scheme

In conjunction with the inspection process, the council have introduced a Monumental Mason Registration Scheme. To register on the scheme memorial masons have to meet certain criteria laid down by the council and to ensure memorials are erected to national minimum standards. It is essential that families do not attempt to move or re-erect memorials that have been laid down. Only registered stonemasons can work on memorials within South Tyneside.

List of Registered Monumental Stonemasons

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