Re: St Matthew, Dinnington (Newcastle Consistory Court; Blackett-Ord Ch. September 1989)
Dinnington is a village in the former Northumbrian coalfield, North of Newcastle upon Tyne, now partly a dormitory suburb. Mr John Gibson is an
inhabitant of long standing and his seven children all live there. Prior to her death in 1986, his wife Margaret asked that her grave should not be neglected, and her family felt strongly that it should not be grassed over, but kept as bare earth planted with flowers, and they have continued to maintain it in this way although the policy of the Parochial Church Council is to level and grass all graves in the relevant (new) part of the churchyard, to facilitate maintenance. When the PCC turfed the grave, the family removed the turves and replanted it. They also spent a considerable sum on a marble monument inscribed with the badge of the Salvation Army and the motto 'Blood and Fire'. A daughter (Mrs Bunting)
petitioned on behalf of the family for a faculty 'to plant and flower my mother's grave, as we promised we would do'. The petition was opposed by the PCC on the ground that grassing over is for the general good. If this exception were allowed, there were others waiting to follow the precedent and the mowing of the Churchyard would become impossible. The Chancellor considered that the policy of the PCC should be supported and that the Gibson family had not shown sufficient grounds for the making of an exception in their case, and the Petition was dismissed. The monumental mason was ordered to pay the costs involved and of the proceedings. Fresh wording was subsequently negotiated with the widow by the
Chairman of the DAC and approved by the Archdeacon and a Faculty was granted.
(1991) 2 Ecc LJ 226