Funeral Policy

If you have recently been bereaved, please accept our condolences.  In order that stress or confusion further to that which you may already be experiencing is not exacerbated, we have felt it necessary to give the following information.  We hope this does not seem draconian; our aim is to avoid expectations being formed that we will not be able to effect.


Some of the policy below is simply the law, other elements of it are borne out of experience and the need to ensure the funeral is the optimum means by which you can move on through your bereavement.

In the event of a burial, there is also an obligation by the rector, churchwardens and PCC, to ensure the limited space remaining in our churchyards is used only for the people entitled.  Some of our burial sites are in very pleasant places and as such it is understandable why many people outside the community would want their relatives to be buried there.  However, to be over generous in respect of outside applications would also be to fail in the responsibility entrusted to us on behalf of the people who live here, who have a legal right and reasonable expectation to have their mortal remains laid to rest here if required.

Mainly we work closely with our local funeral directors, Sutton's Funeral Directors of Wells-next-the-Sea, whom you may find it helpful to contact at your earliest convenience.  

Their phone number is: 01328 710301.


Please read the notes to certain paragraphs also; they give further explanation.


We accept applications for funerals, whether or not it is to be followed by burial or cremation, when there is entitlement for the deceased to buried in a parish churchyard; any one of the three legal entitlements:

  • the deceased died within the parish boundaries (irrespective of any other connection with the parish)
  • the deceased was resident in the parish at the time of death, that residence being their main and permanent home (see note 1)
  • the deceased was on the electoral roll of a church in our benefice at the time of death

In addition to an entitlement, this benefice will allow funerals (and burials, if required) when a long-term resident has had to move, because of infirmity, from their residence here to a nursing home (see note 2).

Further Conditions

The entitlement for a funeral having been established, an application for a funeral service is accepted subject to:

  • (if burial or interment of ashes is to follow) the churchyard being still in use for burials
  • the grave being dug by the grave digger for the Burnhams Benefice
  • the grave being located according the parish’s graves layout plan
  • the current fees having been paid
  • the appropriate legal preliminaries having taken place (normally undertaken/checked by the funeral director)
  • (in the case of burial) the officiant being in possession of the certificate of burial (the “green form”)

The Funeral Service

The funeral service with burial or cremation will be:

  • according the the rites of the Church of England, viz, from the Book of Common Prayer or Common Worship liturgies (see note 3)
  • for a funeral followed by burial, a service of around 45 minutes (see note 4)
  • for a funeral followed by cremation, a service of around 30 minutes plus the maximum time allowance of the crematorium (plus travelling time to the crematorium)

Churchyards and Memorial Stones or Plaques

Headstones and crosses for burial plots, and plaques for interred ashes sites are strictly governed by the Churchyard Regulations for the Diocese of Norwich, which are set as ecclesiastical by-laws by the diocesan chancellor, a high court judge.  Please note that memorials are not permitted until six months after the funeral; they are not to be erected without the permission of the rector.  A monumental stonemason will normally help with the application process.  For your convenience, the regulations can be found by clicking on this link:

Please note paragraph 10.4 of these regulations, which refers to inscriptions; if in doubt, please contact the rector directly for advice.


  1. This does not include holiday homes or lets - unless, of course, the deceased died in this location.  Proof of the deceased’s permanency - that is, main residency - in this community will be required (eg, an entry on the local civic roll of electors). Personnel involved in one of the national services (Armed Forces, Police, F&CO, Diplomatic Corps, etc)  whose residency would be here if not for the exigencies of that service, are also considered.
  2. This does not include anyone who has moved away prior to their residency in a nursing (or suchlike) home.
  3. There are certain items within the service that will be open to choice by the next of kin of the deceased, namely, hymns and Bible reading (Holy Scripture being mandatory) and, if required, secular readings.  All these are subject to the approval of the officiating minister, who has a responsibility to ensure appropriate content consistent with Christian sentiments.  Musical requirements are also subject to the minister’s agreement; however, if such additions become too large a part of the service, they will not be approved. 
  4. Subsequently, if a more extensive religious event is needed, there is scope to hold a memorial service - that is, a service to bring together a collection of memories, character of the deceased and celebration of achievements.  Should such a service be required, it would take place as a separate event, some point after the funeral and interment.  There are no strict guidelines for this, other than the officiating minister’s discretion on the appropriateness of the content.  It will remain a Christian service, have Christian sentiments and point to the promises made by God and enabled by Jesus Christ that we have salvation through the merits of his sacrifice, resurrection and ascension.