‘Gobsmacked’: family’s shock after memorial was removed at Northants church due to complaints of untidiness

Wayne Perrett says a church decision to remove tributes to his mother left where he and family placed her ashes six years ago, has caused distress.
Wayne Perrett says a church decision to remove tributes to his mother left where he and family placed her ashes six years ago, has caused distress.
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A mourner has poured scorn on a Northamptonshire church’s decision to clear away graveside tributes to his mother because of “complaints” from neighbours.

Measures preventing graves from being adorned with too many mementoes have been in place at St Peter’s Church in Cogenhoe since 1992, though successive vicars have chosen not to enforce it.

The items taken included hearts, flowers and a small model fence.

The items taken included hearts, flowers and a small model fence.

But in recent months, rector of the parish Rev Eddie Smith says he has been inundated with complaints from people at the state of the church graveyard.

Wayne Perrett’s family had dressed the plot when his mother Stepahnie Beasley’s ashes were placed six years ago. They since decorated a 2ft by 2ft patch with a small model fence, flowers and hearts.

But when Mr Perrett last went to pay tributes to his mother, the items had been removed.

He said: “It has left the family gobsmacked.

“The church says they have had a sign up for six months - but regardless of that, it’s a church.

“How can they just pull everything off those plots and put a load of grass over it.”

And on the complaints from neighbours he said: “I don’t see why people need to stick their nose in.

“To me it’s just not right.”

But Rev Smith said the sheer number of complaints about the graveyard left his “hands tied”.

He said: “It wasn’t just that I was receiving written complaints from people in the village, but I also had communications from people saying they did not want their relatives buried in the churchyard because of how it looked.

“I took advice from senior clergy and they advised I go back to the original (1992) regulations.

“What one considers a tasteful memorial, another feels to be unacceptable.

“I have to say my hands are tied in that I am sympathetic to the fact people need to pay respects, but when it comes to the point people are complaining I have to act.”

Rev Smith said he tried to contact all the families who had placed objects around the graveyard to tell them of the changes.

Some he was unable to get hold of, though he says all the items collecting from gravesides have been put into storage and logged.

To contact the church about retrieving any items call, 01604 891166.