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Arranging for a memorial

Here we explain about the options for memorials at a crematorium and memorial graves to help you with these important decisions.
2 min read
In this article
Memorials at the crematorium Memorial graves How to arrange the memorial
Other memorials Memorials online

Memorials at the crematorium

About a week after a cremation has taken place, the crematorium often sends a brochure offering a memorial which may include some of the following. 

  • An entry in the Book of Remembrance. The page is displayed on the anniversary of death or of the funeral. Some crematoria sell a miniature reproduction of the entry as a card or bound as a booklet.
  • A memorial plaque or inscription on a panel on a wall on their site.
  • A place in their colonnade of niches for ashes (called a columbarium), where the ashes are either walled in by a plaque or left in an urn in the niche.
  • Memorial trees or rose bushes with a small plaque placed nearby.

Memorial graves

In a churchyard there’s no automatic right to a memorial and there can be strict rules including limitations as to the size of the memorial, the type of stone and the wording of the inscription.

  • Most churchyards have a maximum permissible size for stone tablets marking the location where ashes are buried.
  • Anything other than a simple headstone or inscription requires the granting of a faculty, and the wording of an inscription must be approved by the local church official.

Municipal and private cemeteries are generally less rigorous than churchyards in setting rules about types of stone and the wording of inscriptions. Bear in mind that the upkeep and safety of a memorial is the responsibility of the person who arranged for it to be placed in the cemetery.

How to arrange the memorial

The funeral director or monumental mason will normally apply to the church or cemetery authorities for permission to erect a memorial, and a copy of the entry in the burial register or the deeds of the grave may be required.


If you have any questions, contact a member of the National Association of Memorial Masons (NAMM) who will know the strict regulations regarding the health and safety aspects of placing a heavy stone on a grave.


The cost varies enormously, depending on the type of stone, size, ornamentation, finish and lettering. It’s normal for the stonemason to ask for a 50% deposit to be paid by the client on confirmation of the order.


VAT is charged on the provision of a new headstone or on adding a new inscription to an old one. However, you don't have to pay VAT for the removal and replacement of existing memorials, or on the cemetery fee for the erection of the memorial.

Other memorials

Options include:

  • gifts to charity, which allows people to contribute as they are able
  • placing a bench in a favourite place
  • planting a tree
  • setting up a competition in their name (such as at the deceased’s bridge club).

Memorials online

Many charities will set up a webpage memorial to which you can contribute photographs and comments. This allows you to offer more personal reminiscences than is possible at the funeral, provided it’s done with sensitivity and respect.


The best sites have security systems that allow you to control what is accessible to the public and what is password protected. Some also allow fundraising in memory of the loved one.

Further reading

Choosing a funeral director

Read about what a funeral director does, and how to choose one who is right for you at this emotional time.

Getting bereavement support

Charities such as Marie Curie and Macmillan Cancer Support can offer support during the grieving process.

Last updated: 30 Nov 2018