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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Is there a difference between cemeteries and churchyards?
A. Cemeteries can and should be distinguished from churchyards. Churchyards, traditionally, are places of burial connected to churches either physically or through their ownership by the Church of England. Their use has been recorded since the eighth century.
It is important to distinguish between cemeteries and churchyards because they operate under different kinds of legislation. Churchyards are consecrated tracts of land subject to Church or Canon law. Certain types of activity within a churchyard – such as reserving burial space or removing headstones – require ‘permission’ or faculty. Cemeteries may contain consecrated sections, which are also subject to Church law. However, for the most part cemeteries are managed under civic legislation.
It is possible to argue that, in material terms, churchyards and cemeteries constitute two different kinds of burial space. Churchyards are often small in extent, and perhaps cover no more than a couple of acres (0.8 hectares). Cemeteries are often laid out on a bigger scale: the largest are over 100 acres in size (40 hectares). Although historically status could be attached to the location of burial within a churchyard, for the most part its internal landscape lacks intentional design. By contrast, cemeteries – large tracts of land located on the outskirts of settlement, initially – came into common use from the 1820s, and often designated higher-status burial areas at major junctions and next to major roads and paths. Cemeteries are almost always owned by statutory authorities.
However, some sites sit at the ‘boundary’ between churchyard and cemetery. For example, in many rural areas, successive generations may have extended an ancient churchyard to accommodate burials, but have more recently used civic legislation to add a ‘cemetery’ to the extended churchyard. No obvious distinction may be evident on viewing the site, but part will be managed by the Parochial Church Council, and part by the Parish Council.
In the UK we are continued to use burial space in both cemeteries and churchyards. A lot of churchyards located centrally in towns and cities were closed in the nineteenth century, as a consequence of concerns about public health. However, Victorian investment in new church building meant that in many places new churchyards were laid out towards a city’s periphery, often at the same time that new cemeteries were being developed. Furthermore, many churchyards were extended when space was required. In many rural locations, villages are still reliant on churchyard space.

Q. Is there any point in having a web site devoted to old graveyards?
Of course there is. Churchyards and cemeteries are a great store of social history, where many people come to seek their roots. These peaceful and tranquil oasis host not only great beauty among hundreds of varied monuments, but gravestone inscriptions are a wonderful source of information for both the local historian and for the genealogist.

Q. Isn't it a bit morbid wandering around graveyards?
No, Why not pay a visit yourself, feel the atmosphere of wonderful old cemeteries and have your imagination stimulated.

Q. Are the photographs on the site 'free' to copy?
Yes, with a few restrictions as outlined by the Creative Commons Licence. (
see he bottom of the main page)

Q. Are there any cemeteries which you are not going to photograph and research?
Any cemeteries which are deemed to be in use, or regularly used as the main town or city cemetery, will not be photographed.

Q. Can you give me some names of cemeteries you won't be adding?
Yes. Saltwell Cemetery, Gateshead, Hebburn and Jarrow cemeteries, South Tyneside & Harton Cemetery, South Shields. 

Q. Can I add my own cemetery photographs to your site?
No, I'm afraid not. All the images (apart from vintage photographs) on this site are my own & I don't accept submissions for various reasons.

Q. Will you be adding new graves?
As a rule I use the year 1902 as a cut off point. i.e. The first name entered  on the stone would be before this date. However some later graves are included up to the 1920& 30s. CWGC are excluded from this rule.

Q. Are you going to photograph recent gravestones?
A. No.

A quiet spot in Westoe Cemetery. South Shields

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