The Future of Mary Tavy Parish Cemetery

Mary Tavy’s parish cemetery is nearly full. We currently have only 13 unsold burial plots available which, we estimate, will be used in the next 4-6 years. Unless land is found for a new cemetery, the Parish Council, as the Burial Authority, will have no option but to stop interments once these plots have been used. The Council will, of course, fulfil commitments with regards to grave plots that have been pre-purchased to date and allow second interments and reopening of double plots.

While the Parish Council has no legal obligation to provide a cemetery, the results of a survey of parishioners carried out in November 2021 showed a majority would like burials to continue in the parish (67% of respondents wanted a cemetery extension, 17% did not and 16% expressed no opinion).

We are therefore looking for suitable land in the parish that could provide a new cemetery. Land for a new cemetery must meet several criteria including:

  • The cost must be acceptable
  • Geological and environmental requirements must be met
  • The location must be suitable in terms of parking, public access, near neighbours, etc
  • Planning permission must be obtained
  • The Diocese of Exeter must give permission if any new ground is to be consecrated.

Based on recent and projected interments, the Parish Council estimates that an area of land between 0.5 and 0.8 acres would provide a facility for at least the next 60 years. If anyone owns, or knows of, land that may be suitable please contact Katherine Anness, the Clerk of the Parish Council, by email: or call on 01822 616047. All contacts will be considered confidential.


Why are we making this request?

It may be helpful to give a short history of the cemetery to explain why we have arrived at the current position.

The current cemetery was consecrated in 1956 and the first burial took place in 1958. Some 15 or so years ago it became clear that it would be full within 20-25 years. Our cemetery is somewhat unusual in that there is a high number of burials relative to the interment of ashes when compared with national trends. Consequently, because burial plots are much larger than plots for ashes, our cemetery is filling relatively quickly.

In 2012, the Parish Council approached the then land owner, South West Water, with the proposal to buy land adjacent to the current cemetery. South West Water agreed and an acceptable price was negotiated. A geotechnical survey was carried out in 2014 which showed the land to be suitable for a mix of burials and ashes interments. A considerable amount of paperwork was completed to move towards purchase of the land. However, before the purchase was completed, South West Water announced they wished to sell a large package of land, including the piece identified for the cemetery extension. The Parish Council at the time made the decision not to proceed with the purchase (see the Parish Council meeting minutes (Item 11.5) for February 2016:

The current Parish Council took office in May 2019 and elected to revisit the need for a cemetery extension. Parishioner comments appeared to show that there was interest in land being made available for a cemetery extension and this was confirmed by the results of the previously mentioned survey carried out in November 2021.

Since a considerable amount of work had already been done to determine that the land adjacent to the current cemetery was suitable, the obvious first step was to approach the new owner of the land to see if a purchase was possible. This approach was first made in the summer of 2020 and initial feedback gave the Parish Council some optimism that the purchase could be made. However, despite several discussions, agreement could not be reached and in September 2022 the Parish Council accepted that the purchase would not go ahead.

The Parish Council is therefore left with 2 options: locate another area of land suitable for a new cemetery or, once the current cemetery is full, cease to have interments in the parish.

There will be a discussion on the future of the cemetery at a Parish Council public meeting scheduled for the evening of Thursday 2nd February 2023. Details of the meeting will be published at a later date.