Grave ownership

This section of the website will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the ownership of a grave space.

Exclusive Rights of Burial

When you purchase a grave, you are purchasing the Exclusive Rights of Burial for a specified period.  This gives you the right to use land as a place of burial. You are not buying the grave freehold; it is more like purchasing a lease. Barry Town Council retains ownership of the land at all times.

Exclusive Rights of Burial are currently granted for a period of 70 years.  You can renew the Right at the end of this period.

  • The owner of the Exclusive Right of Burial is entitled to:
  •  be buried in the grave or plot provided space is available
  • authorise further burials in the grave where space is available or for the interment of cremated remains;
  • place an inscribed memorial on the grave or give permission for an additional inscription to be added (all works to be carried out by a NAMM or BRAMM registered mason and within cemetery regulations).

A grave owner is responsible for ensuring the memorial is in a safe condition and paying for any repairs required.

Unless otherwise specified, whoever signs the Notice of Interment form at the time of the first burial will become the owner of the Exclusive Right of Burial.  Legally, a number of people can jointly own the Right; however, please be aware that all owners need to give permission before a grave can be opened or a memorial placed or altered.

Transfer of The Exclusive Right of Burial

It is possible for the grave owner to transfer the Exclusive Right of Burial during their lifetime to another individual.  This is done by completing a Deed of Assignment provided by Barry Town Council naming the new owner of the Right.

When there are a number of owners and one passes away, the Rights are shared by the remaining owners.  Burial Law (Local Authorities Cemeteries Order 1977) states that ‘no burial may take place in a grave and no memorial may be placed on a grave without the written permission of the grave owner during the period of the Exclusive Right, excluding the burial of the grave owner’.  Therefore, when the last remaining owner is deceased a transfer via their estate must take place before any further burials or the installation or amendment of a memorial can take place.

A situation often arises where registered owner(s) are deceased and other family members want to arrange an additional inscription to be placed on the memorial.  In order for the burial or memorial request to proceed the Exclusive Right of Burial needs to be transferred to the person(s) entitled to the Right.

Ownership of the Exclusive Right of Burial is transferred following the owner’s death by one of the following:

  • production of Probate of Will, or Grant of Letters of Administration.
  • in cases where neither Probate of Will or Grant of Letters of Administration are taken out, ownership will need to be transferred by Statutory Declaration by the next of kin.  Statutory Declarations are legal documents which need to be signed in the presence of a Magistrate or Commissioner for Oaths.

All necessary forms will be provided by members of Barry Town Council staff trained by the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management in the Transfer, Granting and Exercising of Burial Rights.  The fee for transfer of Exclusive Right of Burial is £30.

Where a family dispute results in a stalemate and relevant consents are withheld, the ownership cannot be transferred and no further burials will be allowed. This can only be resolved by the various next of kin reaching an agreement between themselves.

The Interment Fee

When you buy a grave the charges are split between the Exclusive Rights of Burial and the interment fee.  The interment fee is a charge incurred each time the plot is opened. It covers the work required at the plot before and after burial and the updating of burial records.

Full burial plots can accommodate up to three full burials (this is dependent on the depth specified at the first interment) and six sets of cremated remains.  Cremated remains plots can accommodate six sets of cremated remains. It is not possible to pre-purchase a grave at Merthyr Dyfan Cemetery or Porthkerry Cemetery.

Preparation and aftercare of burial plots

Graves are prepared for burial at least one full day before the funeral and are covered overnight. Immediately after the mourners have departed the graveside, the grave will be entirely backfilled and made tidy. This work is completed on the day of the burial and coffins are never left uncovered overnight.

The digging of a grave results in the loosening of the excavated material.  When soil is replaced into a grave, it will contain more air pockets than before the excavation. Over time, a backfilled grave will ‘sink’ as the air pockets escape and the soil settles; this is absolutely natural and completely unavoidable, especially in wet weather.

Whilst the sinkage of the surface of a grave can cause distress to the bereaved, it is a natural occurrence that affects all cemeteries.

Following the funeral, the safety equipment is removed and the grave is backfilled using the soil excavated from it. A certain amount of ‘mounding up’ of the grave takes place in anticipation of ground sinkage.

The mounded up earth is made up of a thick clay material, which is the soil excavated from the grave. During the weeks after the burial the cemetery will continue to monitor and top up the grave, if required with this clay material.

Until the ground stabilises, the use of top soil material to top up the grave is not recommended as the finer particles erode in the wind or simply wash away in rain.  Graves need to be topped up on several occasions over a prolonged period before ground movements cease.

Once the ground is suitably settled, a layer of topsoil will be placed over the grave and the area will be grass seeded.  If you would like to lay turf on the plot yourself let the Cemetery staff know and they will prepare the plot with top soil for you once the settlement has taken place.  Please bear in mind that you will need to keep turf laid during dry weather well watered.

After the plot has settled and been grass seeded/turfed the grass will be cut on the plot as part of the general maintenance of the cemetery.  If you would prefer to cut the grass on the grave yourself please inform the cemetery staff.

For information on the installation of a memorial please click here.

Please comply with our Rules and Regulations which state.

For Cremated sections/burials

“The entire surface of designated cremated remains plot must be kept clear”

For Full Burials:

“No kerbs, border stones, fencing, shrubs, rose bushes or any other obstructions are allowed on the surface of the grave, except for a small area 22” x 36” across immediately in front of the main memorial which may be used for bedding plants or flower containers (glass containers are not permitted).

If you unsure as to which Rules and Regulations you should be following please contact the office or you can speak with the Team Leader on site at Merthyr Dyfan Cemetery.