Distressed widow told by church to remove unauthorised headstone

Elaine Holmes by her husband's gravestone, which she has been told to remove from Goadby Marwood Church because it did not have proper permission EMN-190724-111320001
Elaine Holmes by her husband's gravestone, which she has been told to remove from Goadby Marwood Church because it did not have proper permission EMN-190724-111320001
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A Goadby Marwood villager is distraught after being told to remove her late husband’s new headstone from a graveyard after waiting nearly four years to install it.

The £4,000 gravestone was finally erected at the village’s St Denys Church while Elaine Holmes was out of the country on holiday.

But, the local diocese said it was ‘very surprised’ when the headstone suddenly appeared for Frederick ‘Mick’ Holmes, who passed away in December 2015, because no official application had been made to the church to install it.

They asked Mrs Holmes to take it out, but after she complained that they were acting insensitively she has been given until Monday to make a formal retrospective application for the stone.

Mrs Holmes, who represents Waltham ward on Melton Borough Council, told the Melton Times: “I think it is an absolutely awful thing that has happened to me, and it makes me very sad.

“It is a long time ago that my husband passed away, but dealing with this brought me to tears because I had to look after him for the last five or six days of his life, and this has brought it all back.”

She added: “I did notify The Ironstone Churches before it went up, but I have now been told I didn’t have the special certificate for it.

“My husband was a very quiet man and he wouldn’t have wanted a fuss like this to be made over him.”

She said the delay of putting in the gravestone in the years following her husband’s passing was due to issues over design and choosing materials.

Stonemasons, Melton Building Supplies, say they erected the gravestone in the belief that Mrs Holmes had secured the required permission for it from the church. The company said it usually makes the application to a church to put in a headstone, but this was a rare occasion when the customer did.

A spokesperson for the Church of England’s Diocese of Leicester said: “The local church was very surprised when this gravestone suddenly appeared in the churchyard as no permissions had been applied for, and there had been no application to request a headstone be erected from either next of kin or stonemasons in the three years since the bereavement.

“We are saddened that the bereaved family were not aware of the need for an application to be made for any headstone to be granted permission in a churchyard, and now face this very distressing situation.

“The stonemasons concerned have submitted applications to our churches before, and are fully aware of the Churchyard Regulations, so it is baffling that in this case no-one contacted the church.”