Beckingham cum Saundby Parish Council

Serving the people of Beckingham cum Saundby

Parish Clerk: Ed Knox
24 Allison Avenue, Retford
Nottingham DN22 7JS

Tel: 01777711579

Beecher Lane Cemetery

Beecher Lane Cemetery is a beautiful resting place for loved ones to be interred. The cemetery has parking spaces on the lane near the entrance. A tap and watering can is provided for friends and relatives to use for floral tributes on the graves. There's a noticeboard and several benches where you're welcome to take a moment to reflect.

  • Cemetery Address:
    Beecher Lane Cemetery
    Beecher Lane
    Beckingham
    Doncaster
    DN10 4QL
  • Telephone: 01777 711579
  • Email: clerk@beckinghamcumsaundby-pc.gov.uk

Cemetery Documentation

Beecher Lane Cemetery History

Consecration of Beecher Lane Cemetery 1971

1971 Consecration

Those shown in the photograph are, from left to right, Choir boy David Guy - Churchwardens Mr Bourne and Mr Clifford Johnson - The Bishop of Sherwood - Methodist Minister, Reverend Robin Napier - Chris Hodson Diocesan Registrar - Beckingham Church of England Vicar, Reverend Smith - Parish Council Representatives Dick Adams, Marjorie Mell and Mr Herbert Proudley (not shown) also attended.A ceremony was held to Consecrate part of Beecher Lane Cemetery on 20th October 1971. Notes in the Parish Council Minutes at the time show how the cemetery was created along with the costs. The Deed of Conveyance was dated 10th February 1969. Later that year fencing was erected around the cemetery for £189, preparation work for the site was carried out for £126 and tarmac was laid for the entrance at a cost of £30. In 1970 a Rotary Grass Cutter was purchased for £95, and 7 shilling per hour was paid for the grass to be cutin the Cemetery and on the Green. Gates and posts were also erected for the sum of £95. In June it was proposed by the Reverend New that approximately half of the cemetery be Consecrated. The rules of operation of the cemetery were also drawn up. In 1971, hedging to go around the cemetery, in the form of 640 plants, was purchased at a cost of £16. The Cemetery was later registered with the Diocese of Southwell in March 1972.

2006 Consecration

On Thursday 13th July 2006, a ceremony was held for the Consecration of the remaining half of the burial ground, beginning at All Saints Church. A procession went from the church to Beecher Lane Cemetery, led by Mr Eric Turner, the Crucifer, carrying the Cross. He was followed by The Rt. Reverend Anthony Porter Bishop of Sherwood - The Venerable Nigel Peyton, Archdeacon of Newark - Reverend Richard Spray, Area Dean of Bawtry - Reverend David Henson, Priest in Charge of Beckingham - Mr Chris Hodson, the DiocesanRegistrar (who attended the original Consecration ceremony) - Church Wardens Tony Thomas and Jayne Hanson - Parish Council Chair Henry Gourley and his wife Judith - Parish Council Vice Chair Brian Suart and his wife Pat - Parish Clerk Colin Gibson and his wife Jennifer, and other members of the village.Consecration Servicesigning of Deed of ConveyanceProcession returning to Church
A short service, led by the Bishop of Sherwood, was held to bless the burial ground followed by the Bishop of Sherwood signing the Deed of Conveyance, witnessed by the Registrar. The procession then returned to All Saints Church. All dignitaries were invited to the Parish Council Chair's house for a buffet lunch.

Parish Council Decision Regards Cemetery Extension

Following a discussion with the Diocese of Southwell's decision to sell off the 1.5-acre field adjacent to the current cemetery on Beecher Lane. There have been a number of concerns both 'for' and 'against' the Parish Council purchasing the land on behalf of the residents to enable further availability of a cemetery in the Beckingham-cum-Saundby parish. The Parish Council thoroughly looked at the details from all angles.

The Council asked the Clerk to find out the legal requirements and responsibilities for provision of burial grounds. The legal team of the National Association of Local Councils confirmed that there is no legal requirement for a civil parish to have a burial ground. The law provides a 'power', the potential for a Local Council (which can be the County, District or Parish Council, to provide a cemetery if it wishes to, there's no legal duty 'a must do'. There is also no automatic legal right to be buried in the civil parish where a person resides or is born in.

The Council then asked the Clerk to contact land agent experts to find out if £30,000 the Diocese was asking for, for 1.5 acres of poorly maintained grazing land is the market value. The information provided is that it is not the market value, the Diocese is asking for building plot land value. The value of the 1.5 acres would be approximately £6800 to £10,000. The Council asked the Clerk to put this to the Diocese, together with requesting that the Diocese do the good Christian value thing and provide the land either for free, discounted or at least at the market value of £6800 to £10000. The Diocese declined this request and insisted on the building plot value. However, they were prepared to allow payment over a 4-year period.

The Parish Council also looked at the potential long-term costs of maintaining the extra 1.5 acres and its conversion into a cemetery, there are lots of costs involved in this. There are no guarantees of grants being readily available for this work, particularly at present due to COVID-19 where a lot of grants have been redirected to COVID-19 related matters.

With the Diocese not re-considering the asking price of £30,000 there were not sufficient funds in the PC accounts to cover the cost without depleting the entire reserve. The Governance & Accountability guide for Local Council's states that "a General reserve as the appropriate minimum for a smaller authority's general reserve should be maintained at at least 3 to 12 months net revenue expenditure, which is the 3 to 12 months precept. The smaller the authority the closer to 12 months it should be and for an authority with a precept of at least £200k it will be 3 months." For our parish the reserve should never drop below at least 6 months value of the precept approximately £21,000. Remember this is the minimum reserve so for best practice it should be higher, so the £30k reserve sounds the right figure to hold.

Records relating to burials and cremations along with vacant plots were not readily available, so our PC Clerk carefully digitised all the records so that we now hold a burial register spreadsheet of interments, reserved plots and vacant plots, together with an updated cemetery map of the plots. Here is a breakdown of our findings: -

From the digital register: (started in 1971)

Total Full Burials 144

Total used cremation urn plots 60 (of which some are single burial so there is room for family members to be interred into them if they wish to be)

There are 80 reserved full burial plots (running for 99 years, which the burial rights owner may use or can relinquish the plot if they decide it is no longer required)

There are 41 additional empty unreserved plots

There are 20 reserved Cremation Urn plots

There are 20 unreserved cremation urn plots (can be doubled up to cater for wives/husbands, or other family members wishing to be together) However, the Parish Council has reallocated 14 full burial plots (267 to 276) and (145 to 148) for cremation urn plots, which could provide a further 20 cremation plots. There is an area in the cemetery, to the right of the entrance, in front of the first row of cremation urn plots that could be used for additional cremation urn area. This area measures 6 metres by 13.5 metres and using the current plot per square metre this would provide a further 108 urn plots. This would give a total of 148 urn plots which if used can be doubled to cater for husband/wife wishing to be together.

The cemetery boundary on the North, West and East sides consists of the PC boundary and an inner boundary which is filled in with largely leylandii. The removal of the inner fence and leylandii would provide between 8 and 10 foot additional space that could be reserved for a further 48 burial plots once the outer fence has been replaced. . If the boundary on the north, east and west were utilised to their full capacity this would give a total of 169 burial plots.

Over the period from 1972 to 2020 this gives an average burial per year of 3. Over the next 20 years some of the reserved plots will be taken up. Taking into account the departure of some residents to other areas of the country and adding in new residents it is reasonable to assume that there is another 25 to 35 years of service left in the current cemetery.

Looking deeper into the issue there would need additional expenditure to prepare and maintain the extended field as the hedge would need replacing, trees cut back or removed and the surface area would need extensive work costing several thousand ponds. There would also need annual work estimated to easily be in the region of £1500 per year.

It is also worth noting that there are whole parishes, with no burial grounds in them. For example. Dunham & District Parish Council covers the parishes of Dunham, Darlton, Ragnall and Fledborough, each has a parish church, all are closed, either already sold or up for sale for potential conversion for housing, some have been closed many years, the burial grounds full. There is nowhere in those parishes for new or longer-term residents to be buried. However, the parish council is not suggesting this must be the outcome for Beckingham Cum Saundby. The Parish owns two fields on Old Trent Road that could be investigated to be used as a cemetery once Beecher Lane is full, perhaps even a green cemetery and or for ashes as the trend for green and cremations has increased in recent years, particularly with the new Crematoriums at Gainsborough, Babworth and Barnby Moor.

Taking all the above into account the Parish Council voted not to proceed with purchasing the land offered by the Diocese. A member of the public disagreeing with the decision of the parish council made their feelings known at the January 2021 meeting, but personal feelings/opinions change nothing, the Council cannot even debate the matter for 6 months, and as the Council has stated, the figures around the cemetery interments and remaining spaces are what they are.

When the time eventually approaches that the cemetery is almost full, the Council can then investigate matters further, and make a decision as to whether or not to have any further cemetery provision in the parish, see if the existing cemetery can be extended, or whether to potentially convert the paddocks on Old Trent Road into a new cemetery.

Summary

In the councils opinion there are several years service left in the current cemetery

The asking price of £30,000 is well above the value of grazing land

The PC does not have the funds to pay out £30,000 and would contravene Government guidelines if it used its reserve to fund this purchase.

Once purchased the extension cemetery would need several thousand pounds of work to prepare the area and render it suitable for burials

The ongoing costs to maintain the land would be significant over the years before the first burial took place.

There are cheaper alternatives with a chance to provide a green cemetery on Old Trent Road

There is no legal obligation to provide a burial ground for the village.