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Craven District Council

Burial Policies

Policies and Guidelines on Graves and Burials in Craven and on Private Land

Craven District Council own two cemeteries within the district, these being Waltonwrays Cemetery at Skipton and Ingleton Cemetery. Provisions are available for both full burial and for the burial of cremated remains at both Cemeteries.

There are half graves available at Waltonwrays Cemetery for the sole purpose of interring cremated remains, or for the interment of an infant. A new area is being developed in a quiet area of Waltonwrays Cemetery which has been set aside as a Children’s Memorial Garden where infants can be interred or their cremated remains scattered, and a memorial placed.

This page includes:


You can find information on burials and graves in Waltonwrays Cemetery here 

Questions and Answers - Purchasing a Grave

When can a grave be purchased?

A grave may be purchased at any time but is generally purchased at the time of the funeral by the Funeral Director. It is usual for the nearest surviving relative of a deceased person to be nominated as the purchaser.

Types of grave availableWaltonwrays Skipton

  • Private - Lawn section – the graves in these areas may be turfed over and kept maintained at no expense to the owner. A memorial may be placed on the grave if the relatives wish to which families can make a small garden area at the head of the grave (no bigger than the width of the memorial and 1ft in depth)


Or alternatively a grave can be purchased which allows for the installation of a full formal curb set around the grave which are available from a memorial mason.

  • Half graves – refers to Private graves, as above. These can be purchased for up to 4 sets of ashes and allow the families the option to install a full sized memorial and allows the option of a garden as above or kerb sets if required.


At Waltonwrays Cemetery there are other options available for the interment and scattering of ashes. Please see our page on Beautiful memorials to remember your loved ones.

  • Public graves - no headstones or memorials are allowed on these graves. There could be up to 3 individual interments in these graves and the grave cannot be purchased afterwards. It will be the Council’s decision as regards who is interred in the grave.


When I purchase the grave, do I own the land?

No, the popular belief that the land itself is purchased is incorrect.

The purchaser acquires the exclusive right of burial in the grave but the land and the responsibility for its management remains with the Council. The exclusive right of burial is for 30 or 60 years, which can be extended for a further period of time once this has lapsed.

What happens to the grave following the burial?

Following an interment the ground will continue to settle for six months. As soon as practicable the grave will be levelled, grassed over and maintained by the Council with regular grass cutting.

What can I place on the grave?

Relatives may wish to carry out planting on the grave and to maintain it themselves, which can be no bigger than the width of the memorial and 1ft deep.

To enable the cemetery sections to be maintained to a reasonable standard and to open graves for future burials no railings, fences, edging stones or chippings etc will be permitted within each grave space. Due to health and safety concerns, the area surrounding the grave should be kept clear of glass containers, plastic surrounds/edging, ornaments including windmills, chimes and any such articles.  

Where a grave has not been tended over a period of time, it will be seeded over and maintained by the Council. All railings, fences, edging stones or chippings will be removed.

What memorials can be placed on the grave?

Memorials, including headstones, vases, desk tablets and kerbs (restricted size) may be placed on a grave, subject to approval by the Council. To ensure the safety of the memorial and cemetery users, all memorials must be fixed to NAMM and BRAMM Standards and by a Memorial Mason registered with the Council. An application form must be submitted to the Council giving details of the proposed dimensions, wording and fixing method, and no memorial can be fixed until written approval has been given.

It is the graves owner’s responsibility to maintain any memorial on the grave in a safe condition.

Due to our commitment to biodiversity and environmental best practice we politely request that balloons, Chinese lanterns or anything similar are not placed or released within our cemeteries.  Items such as this are proven to cause damage to wildlife and litter the local area.


We also discourage the use of single use plastics and politely request that all flowers left within our cemeteries and memorial gardens are left without the plastic coverings

Burials in nearby graves

The co-operation of grave owners and relatives is requested when the lawn area of their grave is needed for the temporary placing of earth when an adjoining grave is re-opened for a burial. Following the burial the grave will be re-instated.

When do I receive the grave deed?

After the purchase of a new grave, the person nominated as the grave owner will receive the document, called the ‘Grant of Exclusive Right of Burial’ within six weeks of the purchase.

This Grant or ‘Grave Deed’ reserves the owner the right of burial in the grave specified.

What happens when the owner dies?

When the grave owner dies, the Right of Burial will pass to the heirs of the estate. The rights of the grave can be transferred into their names to allow for future re-openings of the grave or an additional inscription to be added to the memorial.

It is strongly advised that the grave deeds be transferred, to avoid difficulties in the future, whilst the owner is still living. This can be achieved by adding another named person to the rights of burial. The grave owner has the automatic right to be buried in the grave.


Private Land Burial

Although burial principally occurs in purpose designed cemeteries or churchyards, there are some exceptions. Families with large estates have routinely built a mausoleum or similar building on their land, for the burial of family members. Some individuals have been buried in farmland and others in gardens, without this becoming generally known. Much of this has been due to The Natural Death Centre, a charity formed to support a less formalised routine for funerals, as well as a better approach to death generally. They have issued a handbook and a further publication called “Green Burial”, which explains how to arrange these burials within legal and planning requirements (copies of which can be obtained from our offices).

Rules and Regulations which should be adhered to:

  • The Consent of the owner of the land must be given.
  • The owner of the land must check there are no restrictive covenants attached to the title deeds or registration of the property that prohibit burial.
  • The gravesite should be on land with a deep water table and be sufficient distance from watercourses so as not to pose a pollution threat.
  • There must be a minimum depth of 3ft between the top of the coffin and the settled soil level.
  • The owner of the land must prepare, and keep in a safe place, a burial register.


The Advantages of Private Land Burial:

  • It allows you to organise a very personal funeral, in which you are in sole control.
  • It can reduce costs significantly by not having to purchase a grave in a cemetery.
  • Costs can be reduced further by not having the assistance of a Funeral Director.


The person responsible for the burial must obtain a Certificate of Authority for Burial from the Registrar of Births and Deaths (or in some circumstances the Coroner) before the burial can take place. This is normally issued at the registration of the death and is commonly known as the Green Form.

With 96 hours of the burial taking place this form must be completed and returned to the registrar’s office from which it came.

The Disadvantages of Private Land Burial:

  • Access to visit the grave, should the property be sold in the future, could prove difficult. A right of access could be created by way of easement for grave visits but this arrangement may deter a purchaser.
  • It could have a negative impact on property value. Some properties, for example farmlands, are better suited than others. One or two burials in a secluded spot on a farmland is less likely to have the same impact as the burial in a suburban garden.
  • The proximity of neighbours in a garden burial might pose a problem. They may want to oppose the burial and may be offended by the sight of a coffin or body.


Grave digging can be hard work when conducted by hand. A small machine digger can be brought in to reduce the work load or you can employ a freelance grave digger to carry out the task. A preliminary excavation should take place to ensure that standing water does not gather when first dug.


For more information please see the Burials in Private Land document or visit the Natural Death Centre

Infant Burials

We have ensured there are various sections of the cemetery available for parents to lay their babies to rest. This includes a new section known as the Angels Garden.

Various memorial options are also available to commemorate your baby. Please see our page on Beautiful Memorials to remember your loved ones.

The Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM) Joint Policy Statement on Infant Cremation (England/Wales) can be found here: Policy Statement for Infant Cremation.  This policy is carefully adhered to and always has been. The Charter rights on Baby and Infant cremations can be read here too.  

SANDS offer support for bereaved parents who have lost a baby. The following booklet may be of some support - SANDS - Saying Goodbye to your Baby or visit the SANDS Website