Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Exclusive Right of Burial and does this mean I own the land?

No.  You have purchased the Exclusive Right of Burial in the piece of land called the grave space.  The ownership of the land remains with Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council.  Exclusive Right Of Burial in a local authority cemetery must not by law exceed 100 years.

The Exclusive Right of Burial is a legal document which allows the registered holder the right to bury human remains in an agreed grave space as long as there is sufficient depth to do so. All land within the Cemetery remains in the ownership of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council which currently issues an Exclusive Right of Burial for a period of 75 years.

An  Exclusive Right of Burial is not the purchase of any specific 'land'. It is merely the right of burial in a specified grave space and the registered holder also has the right to determine who is buried within that grave space and what memorial, if any, is placed on the grave space.

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council will issue The Exclusive Right of Burial following the first burial in a grave space once all fees have been paid (generally by the appointed Funeral Director as this will be included in the invoice for their services).

The Council maintains records of all registered holders of the Exclusive Right of Burial and the registered holder is the only person who can arrange to place a memorial on a grave. It is essential that any changes to the registered holder are notified to The Council as it may be necessary to transfer the Exclusive Right of Burial to another person or persons, for example on the death of the grant holder.

Why is the Grant of Exclusive Right of Burial only for a set period of Time? I want the grave forever!

The law stipulates that graves cannot be sold for more than 100 years and authorities cannot go against the law.  However, the law does permit grant of ownership to be extended so the grave can stay in the family for as long as you wish.  This is done at the end of the licence period by your decedents/family.

It is important that the owner of the exclusive right of burial informs us of any changes of address otherwise correspondence of renewal will not be received.  similarly, should the owner die the nearest relatives should contact the cemetery office to arrange for the ownership to be transferred and thus the interest in the grave can be retained indefinitely.

Should you not wish to renew the licence or cannot be contacted by us, then we can lawfully remove any memorial after giving a set period of notice for you to remove the memorial yourself.  If you decide to renew the lease this will be on condition that the memorial receives a full inspection and stability test and any defects found are repaired.

I own the grave - can anyone else be buried in it if I don't want them to?

No.  Graves cannot be opened without the permission in writing of the registered owner.  The only exception to this is where the burial is to be that of the registered owner in which no written authority is required.  The law protects your rights as a registered owner of the grave.

I am told the grave is full but now I want to another burial.

There are legal requirements such as how much earth must be left on top of the last coffin which dictates the depths of graves.  In some instances we can provide a grave sleeve which will enable a grave to be prepared at a shallower depth within the constraints of the law.

Alternatively lawful authority could be obtained to exhume those already buried in the grave, excavate the grave deeper, rebury those deceased that were exhumed and subsequently carry out the third burial.  This action would require careful consideration as this can be a very costly and emotionally distressing task to undertake.  Please visit Exhuming a Body for more detail on exhumations. 

What if the Holder of the Exclusive Right of Burial is Deceased?

If the registered holder is deceased, the Exclusive Right of Burial Grant must be transferred before any burial (other than that of the registered holder) or memorial application can be approved.

There are a number of instances in which an Exclusive Right of Burial Grant will have to be transferred to another person or persons, for example:

  •    The death of the grant holder
  •    Wanting to place a memorial on a grave but the grant holder has died
  •    Wanting to add an inscription on a memorial but the grant holder has died
  •    Transferring the grant into the name of another because the grant holder is elderly or ill.

If the transfer the Exclusive Right of Burial is to take place at the time of a burial being conducted in the grave, then the appropriate section of the pdf icon Notice of Burial form [110KB] must be completed. 

If the transfer is to take place at any other time, then a request must be made in writing to the Cemetery Department.

Any Exclusive Right of Burial which is transferred will be transferred for the remainder of the grant period.


When can Funerals take place?

Funerals can take place weekdays at 11am and and 2pm, depending on availability. Services for cremated remains can be held at 12.30pm.

Funerals currently cannot be conducted on weekends or public holidays.

Please talk to your funeral director to discuss any specific requirements.

For our current availability please visit Funeral Bookings


What types of graves are available?

Welwyn Hatfield Lawn Cemetery offers Lawn Style graves for the facilitation of coffin burials.

There are a variety of burial options available for cremated remains available at both Hatfield Hyde and The Lawn Cemetery. Our pdf icon Cemetery Brochure [2MB] provides full details of what is available 


What are the options for Islamic Faith Burials?

A section of the cemetery was designed with the local Muslim community to provide burial spaces which complied with the Islamic teachings. These graves are aligned perpendicular to the Qibla (Mecca).  Please visit Funeral Bookings for more information.

Would I be able to have a funeral service in the Welwyn Hatfield Lawn Cemetery?

Yes. You can hire the chapel for services. It seats up to 60 Mourners, is non-denominational so it is suitable for non-religious ceremonies.  Please visit The Lawn Cemetery for more information.

How much will it cost?

All costs are detailed in our Fees and Charges

Why are graves dug so deep? (it is distressing to see the coffin go down so deep)

Graves have to be dug to a sufficient depth to allow for future burials to take place should a family require more than one burial in a grave.  Therefore the grave needs to be deep enough to allow not only for the depth of coffins/caskets that will be buried but also to accommodate legal requirements of undisturbed earth to be between each coffin and the amount of earth that must cover the last interment.

Are graves filled in straight after a funeral or are they left to the next day?

Graves are prepared for burial at least one full day before funeral and are covered overnight.

Following a funeral, once mourners have departed we immediately commence the backfilling of the grave and make the area tidy.  This work is completed on the day of the burial and coffins are not left uncovered overnight.

I understand that some people wait while the grave is filled in.  Why is this?

Some cultures require that the grave is filled in while the family watch or they may wish to undertake the backfilling of the grave themselves.  When families want this it is essential that we are made aware of their requirements when the burial is first arranged.  This will ensure that the families wishes are met and that their safety is protected during the backfilling process.

Can anyone witness the grave being filled?

Yes, but we will need to be advised of this before the funeral takes place so that we are prepared.

How will the grave be maintained?

We will remove and dispose of floral tributes placed on a grave as soon as they have withered.

We will also regularly place topsoil on the grave until it has settled.  The plot will then be renovated, seeded and mown on a regular basis.  There is no extra charge for maintenance.

Do you provide a headstone cleaning service?

No.  However we can provide a list of NAMM approved memorial Masons who offer such a service.

I Have a Lawn Grave.  Why cant I put anything on the grassed area

Welwyn Hatfield Lawn Cemetery was designed to only have an upright headstone place on predetermined concrete plinths at the head of the grave.  In this manner the limited area available for burial is best utilised.  In addition maintenance is easier to accomplish and will be therefore kept in a neater condition.  These graves were sold n this understanding of only lawn memorials to be erected.  Any Item which protrudes from the concrete plinth may be removed by the council without providing any notice.

Full details of what can and cannot be placed on a grave is detailed in our rules and regulations

Who is responsible for the memorial?

Whilst we are responsible for maintaining the cemetery unsafe condition, you have the responsibility to maintain your memorial in a safe condition.  If you fail to do this cemetery staff may take action to make it safe.

We carry out routine inspections of memorials in the cemetery.  When one is identified as being instable and likely to fall and injure someone it might be cordoned off, laid flat or have a temporary support installed.  You will receive a letter in these circumstances and it will be your responsibility to arrange suitable repair.  Should your memorial still be under guarantee the memorial mason will be responsible to carry out repair at no extra cost to yourself.  Should you ignore the notice sent to you, your memorial may well be laid flat and when the lease expires you will not be allowed to renew it until repairs are made.  Should no repairs be carried out after further notification the memorial may be lawfully removed from the cemetery.

Your memorial mason also has a responsibility to provide a memorial of merchantable quality and to erect it in a safe manner.  You should insist that the memorial is erected in accordance with British Standard 8415 and the National Association of Memorial Masons (NAMM) Recommended code of practice and seek a guarantee of conformity from your memorial mason.


What is a memorial permit and why is it needed?

Prior to a memorial being erected on a grave space, the written authority of the owner of the grave must be given on a Memorial Permit application form, authorising the proposed erection of the memorial.  Memorials need to conform to cemetery rules and regulations with regard to size and fixings, and the memorial also needs to be checked for stability under health and safety regulations.  The cemetery staff need to check that the memorial conforms to the regulations and will be erected in a safe manner.  To a certain extent this helps protect your interests although you will remain responsible for the maintenance of the memorial in the future.  You may ask your memorial mason for a workmanship guarantee or in fact details of insurance.

Do you provide a headstone cleaning service?

No.  However we can provide a list of NAMM approved memorial Masons who offer such a service.

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