Who owns burial sites?

There is no statutory duty to provide burial space. As a consequence, provision tends to be ad hoc and is largely uncoordinated at any level – parish, district, regional or national. London, containing 32 separate local authorities, contains a rather chaotic spread of sites, with some cemeteries owned by boroughs located outside their borough boundary, in other boroughs. In 2011, an audit of burial provision in London indicated a range of providers that included some private companies. 

Almost all district councils own and manage cemeteries, although in more rural areas this provision tends to be under the control of town and parish councils. A large minority of parish councils either contribute to a joint cemetery committee or own and manage cemeteries themselves. A very small number of cemeteries is owned by private companies.

The Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM) maintains a list of member cemeteries and crematoria on their website.

In addition to municipal cemeteries and churchyards, burial space is also provided by other religious denominations. In the nineteenth century, protestant Nonconformists – including Quakers, Baptists, Independents and Methodists – often used burial space beside their places of worship. Some of these burial grounds are still in use. Roman Catholic burial grounds are also in operation. Muslim communities were also being served with burial space provided by charitable trusts and private sector operators. The Jewish community also has a tradition of providing burial space for its own exclusive use, either by arrangement with a local authority to use part of an existing cemetery or through direct ownership and management of a site.

Follow the links to view information on JewishMuslim and Roman Catholic sites and traditions.