Advice on memorial and plaques


Sometimes family members, friends or other close contacts of the deceased member of a parish wish to commemorate him or her with a memorial inside the church, typically a wall plaque. If such a request is made to you, then you need to be aware that a special procedure applies for granting permission. This isn’t a matter that can be authorised by the parish, as is the case with monuments in churchyards. It is a two-stage process and this is how it works.

The first stage is to contact the DAC Office with outline details of the proposal so that a formal approach can be made to gain the preliminary view of the Commissary General (the Judge of the Diocese) on exceptionality. That is to say - what is it about the individual concerned that justifies commemorating him or her with something other than the usual kind of churchyard memorial? To help the Commissary General to take a view, you should provide a Statement of Exceptionality, setting out in detail why you believe his or her contribution to parish life was indeed exceptional. It’s worth taking time over this, and that includes getting the views of other members of the parish, which can help to make the case. The Statement of Exceptionality will then be discussed at a meeting of the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) so that the Commissary General can in due course take into account any comments it may wish to make. Please be aware that exceptionality is a very strict legal test and few cases are deemed to meet it.

If the Commissary General is satisfied that the test has been met, you should then apply to the DAC as you would for any other matter, providing full details of the memorial – its proposed location in the building, design, materials, dimensions, the wording of the inscription and so on. The Committee will then decide whether to recommend the proposal on the basis of its visual impact on the interior of the church. If it does, the usual procedure then applies – an application through the on-line faculty system, Notification of Advice, a 28-day notice period and a formal petition for faculty to the Registry. Depending on the visual impact, external consultations with Historic England and the national amenity societies may also be necessary. This process can take up to 42 days.