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Guide to Burials and Cemeteries

 New Burial Plots

The purchase of a burial space gives the purchaser certain rights and privileges. For instance, purchased graves may be dug deep enough to allow for up to three burials. This allows members of the same family to be buried in the same plot at later dates, if they so wish. No purchased grave may be re-opened for another burial without satisfactory proof that the owner, or his or her successor in title, has given consent. The registered owner also has the right to erect and maintain one memorial on the grave.

The owner also has the right to transfer the Right of Burial to any relative in which case the Deed of Grant should be sent, with a covering letter, to:

How to Purchase a Burial Plot

Plots in the Council's cemetery are generally purchased at the time of the first burial, and the Funeral Director can make the application on your behalf.  Unfortunately we are unable to accept pre-purchase of burial plots. 

If you are not using a Funeral Director please contact us for further assistance - email: burials@dover.gov.uk

A purchased plot carries with it a Deed of Grant for Exclusive Right of Burial for one hundred years and is proof of purchase. It is an important document and should be kept in a safe place.


Who Chooses the Position of the Grave?

The selection of grave space is at the discretion of the Council and allocations are made by the Property Services staff.

How are the Fees Paid?

Any fee for a purchase arranged by a Funeral Director will be included in his account.

What About Unpurchased Graves?

Unpurchased graves are prepared for one or two burials only, and no headstone or memorial vase is permitted. However, a removable flower vase less than twelve inches in height may be placed on the grave.

Is the Scattering of Ashes allowed in Cemeteries?

No, under The Local Authority Cemeteries Order 1977, the Council must maintain a Register of all Burials within a Cemetery. Therefore all ashes should be interred.

Can I Erect a Headstone or Memorial Vase?

A memorial can only be erected on a purchased grave. Your Monumental Mason will be fully aware of the Council's requirements concerning the size, materials and methods of fixing the memorial and will be pleased to advise you on the procedures to be followed before the memorial can be erected.

How do I Obtain Permission for a Headstone?

An application for approval signed by the owner of the Deed of Grant of the grave is sent to the Property Services Office by the Monumental Mason at least fourteen days before the monument is to be erected. Once approval to the application is received the erection of the memorial can take place.

Can I Have More Than One Memorial?

The registered owner of a purchased plot has the right to erect and maintain one memorial on the grave. This can either be a headstone or a memorial vase and must be placed at the head of the grave. Inscriptions on memorial vases are restricted to the name, initials and age and date of death.

Are Kerbstones and Enclosures Allowed?

The Council is anxious to maintain a high level of maintenance throughout all its cemeteries and to ensure a high standard of care for all the plots within its control. Any kerbstones or other enclosures on any grave would present difficulties in this area and are therefore not permitted except where they already exist in the older parts of the cemeteries.

What are My Responsibilities for the Memorial?

Memorials are the responsibility of the owner of the grave. Although the Council is not responsible for maintaining a memorial nor for any damage caused to it, owners are advised of any damage and will be given time to arrange for its repair or removal. A memorial erected without permission may be removed without notice, although the next of kin will normally be contacted beforehand to be given the opportunity to apply to purchase the Deed of Grant.

What Floral Tributes Can I Place Upon the Grave?

Floral decorations can be placed on any grave. In order to keep cemeteries in a neat and tidy condition floral tributes will be taken from the grave and disposed of as soon as they are seen to be decaying. This is usually 7-21 days after the interment. If relatives wish to retain the bases to the floral tributes the District Council will need to be advised of this fact at the time of the interment.

Who Manages the Cemeteries?

All funerals, burials or disposal of ashes, and erection of memorials, are under the control of Dover District Council. Any works must be carried out to the satisfaction of the Council, and anything placed or planted on any grave, other than an approved memorial, becomes the property of the Council, and may be removed should it be considered necessary.

Where are the Children's Gardens?

There are children's Gardens at St. Mary's Cemetery Dover, Hamilton Road Cemetery Deal and at Aylesham Cemetery.

These are laid out with headstone borders for your memorials and tributes. The remainder of the area is grassed for ease of maintenance.

How are the Graves Arranged?

The sections currently in use are laid out as lawn plots to enable the maintenance of the area to be carried out more efficiently. The sections are set out with headstone borders, two feet in width, with provision for a rose bush to be planted between each plot. To avoid maintenance problems and to preserve a pleasant uniformity, the headstone borders should not be altered in any way, nor should any border edging of any kind be placed on a grave. The grassed areas are kept flat and unplanted.

Older Graves

Some older parts of cemeteries are mainly used for the re-opening of family graves. These sections may contain fully kerbed as well as unkerbed graves.

What Happens if a Grave becomes overgrown and untidy?

Graves are sometimes difficult to maintain in which case they may be turfed over at the owner's request, free of charge, by contacting us.

Planting of Graves in the older sections

The Council maintains headstone borders and graves without charge to the owners. Small shrubs, roses etc. may be planted within the graves in the older kerbed sections of the cemeteries although the Council reserves the right to remove any plant which becomes overgrown or untidy.

Can the Council Maintain a Grave For Me?

The Property Services office will be pleased to make the necessary arrangements for any grave to be maintained or planted/maintained by the Council. Invoices for these services are generally sent out in December each year and new requests for either of these services must be received by the first week in March to be included in that current year's maintenance programme. Any request received after that date will be added to the programme as soon as possible. Please contact the Council for the current cost of this service.

Can I Ask Cemetery Staff to do Works on My Behalf?

Although the Council's staff are willing to advise in any way they can, they are not allowed to be privately employed to carry out any works within the Council's Cemeteries.

Where are the Burial Records, and Whom Should I Contact?

The Registers of Burials, and other records, are held for safe keeping with the Property Services Division at Dover District Council. 

Your Funeral Director or Monumental Mason will be working closely with us in arranging burials and erecting memorials and so will be experienced in the do's and don'ts of the regulations. In most cases they will prepare and complete all the paperwork on your behalf, and pay any fees required including those of the Council, and submit them in their final account.

See also Memorial Benches and Memorial Plaques.



Email: burials@dover.gov.uk