Anger as graves ‘stripped’ of tributes in Old Whittington churchyard

St Bartholomew's Church, Old Whittington
St Bartholomew's Church, Old Whittington

A Chesterfield mourner who has tended the graves of her late dad and brother for more than 20 years was outraged to find their graves ‘stripped’ of flowers and tributes.

Catherine Wainwright says she places around three arrangements a year at the resting places of her dad and brother in the churchyard of St Bartholomew’s, Old Whittington.

St Bartholomew's Church, Old Whittington

St Bartholomew's Church, Old Whittington

But Catherine was shocked to visit the graves in January to clear up a Christmas arrangement she left with her mum, Daisy, to find the graves had been ‘stripped bare’.

Catherine is now urging church wardens to re-think their policy on removing tributes.

She said: “Any tributes or flowers left at a grave are done so with love, they must remember that.

“My brother Patrick died in a road accident 20 years ago aged just 46, and my dad James died ten years ago.

“Since then I have made arrangements for their graves at Easter, Summer and Christmas, which cost around £30 each.

“My mother and I have never had any problems with that until this year.

“There were signs placed around the churchyard informing us any festive tributes would be removed in April, but I was shocked to see everything had already been taken. There were loads of red and white silk flowers along with sprigs of holly. Ironically, there was still holly on the trees, so it was all in keeping with the churchyard.

“We were just so upset. It really need addressing, we’re talking about people’s loved ones here.”

Carol Coslett, the Archdeacon of Chesterfield, said: “The Rector and parochial church council have acted in accordance with regulations for Derby Diocese and made every effort to let parishioners know that a churchyard tidy was pending- in February, not April.

“Silk and artificial flowers are not normally permitted on graves under Church of England Regulations 1981, apart from Remembrance wreaths and Christmas wreaths.

“It is the PCC’s and Incumbent’s responsibility to maintain the churchyard and they try to be sympathetic and sensitive as much as they can to the needs of those who tend graves.

“On the day in question I believe it was extremely windy so many of the grave flowers were blowing away and this made it particularly difficult for the team of volunteers.

“I can assure you that there was no intention to cause undue stress.”