Choosing a grave


  1. Overview
  2. Purchased graves
  3. Unpurchased graves
  4. Types of graves
  5. Service arrangements available in the cemeteries


If you are arranging a burial you may:

  • use a purchased grave (a grave already owned by your family)
  • purchase a new grave
  • use an unpurchased grave

Purchased graves

Purchased graves are those where the exclusive right of burial is purchased by a nominated person (usually the next of kin of the deceased), effectively forming a private grave and giving the family control of any future burials in that grave. The grave owner must give written permission before any burial or memorial work can take place.

Exclusive rights of burial can be purchased in advance of being required for burial. It is also possible to meet a member of staff in the cemetery to select the grave space yourself on payment of a selection fee.

Exclusive rights of burial are purchased for a fixed term. This can be for a minimum of 50 years, up to a maximum of 90 years.

Please note that the land remains the property of the council; the owner simply purchases the exclusive right to use that piece of land as private burial space. 

At the end of the term, it is the family's responsibility to renew their burial rights if they so wish. Should the rights not be renewed, the cemetery staff can lawfully remove any memorial after giving a set period of notice for you to remove the memorial yourself. If there is sufficient depth left in the grave, we also have the right to bury someone else there. We DO NOT have the right to disturb any existing burials in the grave.

Unpurchased graves

These are also known as 'common' or 'public' graves. The council retains control of the burials in these graves. They are used for the burial of people who do not already own a purchased grave, and whose family do not wish to buy a grave at the time of making the funeral arrangements. We do not permit empty graves to be used in this way and so if you choose to bury someone in an unpurchased grave they will be buried with other people who may not be related to them.

The council ensures that there is an 8 year interval between successive burials in these graves (unless the deceased were from the same family) which gives the family the opportunity to purchase that grave at a later date. If the grave is not purchased within 8 years, the council may re-use the grave to bury someone from another family.

Only unfixed memorials, such as a wooden cross or small stone vase / tablet, can be placed on an unpurchased grave subject to application and the payment of a small charge.

Types of graves 

Lawned graves / unlawned graves

  • Lawned graves are designed to emulate war graves by providing a neat and uniform appearance. You are only allowed to use the 1st three feet of these graves for a memorial or planting. The remainder of the grave must remain open lawn. Lawned graves were introduced to allow unobstructed access for visitors, including those with disabilities, and to make graves easier to maintain for the public.     
  • Unlawned graves have no such restrictions and the entire length of the grave (8 feet) can be used for memorials or planting.

Graves for specific faiths

The cemeteries are divided in to various sections, and some sections are designated as being suitable for specific religious faiths. Our cemeteries have sections that are designated as:

  • Consecrated land - blessed as sacred by the Church of England
  • General land - suitable to be used for any burial
  • Moslem land (Harton Cemetery and Boldon Cemetery only)
  • Jewish land (Harton Cemetery only)

Children's graves

Whilst children can be buried in any full sized grave in our cemeteries, we can provide small graves specifically for the burial of babies and children in all of our cemeteries. Hebburn Cemetery has a designated section for the burial of infants and babies.

Cremated remains graves

Whilst cremated remains can be buried in any purchased grave in our cemeteries, we can provide small graves specifically for the burial of cremated remains in all of our cemeteries. 

Service arrangements available in the cemeteries

There are chapels available to be used for funeral services in Harton, Jarrow, Hebburn and Whitburn Cemeteries. You may hold a service there before proceeding to the graveside for the burial. Alternatively, you can hold your service at a local place of worship, followed by a brief committal ceremony at the graveside.