1900: Burial Act

The penultimate Burial Act passed into law many of the recommendations made by the 1897/8 Select Committee on Burial Acts. The Act followed decades of agitation between Anglicans and Nonconformists on the level of state support for the Church of England that was built into the Burial Acts. Particular indignation was directed towards requirements to pay clerical compensation and the passing over to local clergy of fees that were charged to erect memorials in consecrated sections.

The Burial Act 1900 stripped away any benefit the Church might draw from the Burial Acts. Ecclesiastical fees, save for the reading of the burial service, were abolished. In addition, responsibility for burials inspection and ratifying the fees charged passed from the Home Office to the Local Government Board.

The Burial Acts had presupposed that all cemeteries would be consecrated, but a section remain unconsecrated. The Burial Act 1900 presumed the opposite. All cemeteries would remain unconsecrated unless a case could be made demonstrating demand for consecrated burial space.

The Home Office processed local applications for new cemeteries. The National Archive holds many of these applications, which often include hand-made maps and correspondence outlining local disagreements on the matter (see the banner image, above).

British History

Search the bibliography for further material on 19th and 20th century cemetery and crematorium history.