Purchasing a Property with a Graveyard

tomb stones

Purchasing a property with a graveyard is a somewhat unique occurrence and for many will raise concerns. Not only will be the respect for the once living that must be taken in to consideration, it will also raise concerns to ownership of the land (and individual burial plots / tomb stones) plus any visitors rights in place or in deed the atmosphere you might receive from the local community if you decide to remove headstones etc. Most certainly, though your garden might be full of people that were once of importance to others, they will be the quietest neighbours that you are likely to ever have, though this could be tested if you are a believe in ghosts and spirits!

Having lived in a village opposite a church and graveyard, I can vouch for it being one of the most peaceful and harmonised locations I have ever enjoyed. The sleepy hamlet of Wixoe in Suffolk certainly showed me the positive side of living next to a graveyard where our cottage on ‘Church View‘ faced countless old tombstones.

Buying a property with a graveyard / tombstones can be a whole different complication as it sits within your ownership so many extra legalities and constraints might be in place. It is vitally important that your legal representative appraises in full all title deeds on a property you are looking to purchase to ascertain what rights there might be in favour of any graveyards, ie maintenance / visiting / removal etc. “If there are graves still there and you intend to build upon or purchase the ground they are on, it will first have to be deconsecrated. Remains can be relocated but, if they are not, then you are bound to allow relatives access.” source ourproperty

Though many graveyards can be quite picturesque, they are somewhat less desirable as a feature in your garden! Many can be in the ownership of the Church of England, such as a leasehold for 999 years so this involves plenty of issues from maintenance to third party visitor rights on to your property. Without question, a graveyard on your property can have a negative effect on its value as well as its appeal – An example includes a former Congregational church, Hemsby that was for sale in 2019 – Would you buy this former church where people can still be buried in the garden?

Once you know the full implications of purchasing a property with a graveyard then you can make an educated purchase and importantly offer (most property with graveyards will be below market value). Once you know your full rights you can either fully enjoy the graveyard or in deed segregate / obscure the view such as my applying hedging / fruit trees that surround it. You can also deal with site visitors by applying a separate entrance area away from your main property.

A good place to start your research is via The Local Authorities’ Cemeteries Order 1977.

Christopher Walkey

Founder of Estate Agent Networking. Internationally invited speaker on how to build online target audiences using Social Media. Writes about UK property prices, housing, politics and affordable homes.

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