Memorial Stonework – Your Questions Answered

With branches throughout West Sussex, Freeman Brothers has been serving the communities of Billingshurst, Crawley, Horsham and Hurstpierpoint as a funeral director since establishing in 1855.  The company also incorporates J. Gumbrill Monumental Masons meaning that, together, the two are able to support local people in the provision of funeral services and memorial stonework, plus […]

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Freeman Brothers Funeral Directors staff member Annissa

With branches throughout West Sussex, Freeman Brothers has been serving the communities of Billingshurst, Crawley, Horsham and Hurstpierpoint as a funeral director since establishing in 1855.  The company also incorporates J. Gumbrill Monumental Masons meaning that, together, the two are able to support local people in the provision of funeral services and memorial stonework, plus the maintenance of stones.  Today, we take a closer look at what is involved in the process of ordering and designing a stone, with Annissa from J. Gumbrill…

In order to arrange a memorial, you must be the grave owner or have permission from the grave owner.  If you are unsure who owns the grave, you can contact the local council if the grave is in a cemetery, or the attached church if it is in a churchyard.

Each stone we commission is bespoke, so we are able to design the stone as per your individual request.  We have sample designs on file too, so if you’re not sure of what you’d like, we can show you some options.  Usually, the name of the person the stone marks will be included, along with the dates – at least year, sometimes the exact dates – of birth and death.  Some people choose to include what we call ornamentation – so work such as flowers, religious symbols, or other non-text inscriptions – whereas others choose to have a phrase such as ‘Rest In Peace’ or something describing who they were, for example, ‘Loving friend and sister’.  The other option available now is photo plaques – some people want to have a cameo-style photo added to the stone.

We base the measurements of the memorial on the inscription that you would like, as well as factoring in any future additions.  Some graves are double-depth, in order for more than one person to be buried there, and some plots are to mark where ashes have been interred following a cremation – again, more may be added at a later date.

Each cemetery and churchyard has different regulations.  This means that everything from the type of stone and inscription to the size and shape of it has to be approved by those who are in charge of maintaining the area.  Cemeteries generally offer more options here, and some ministers are more relaxed than others in what they allow.  As I work on these items day-to-day, I’m able to advise you regarding local policies when you come in for an appointment with me to discuss what you’d like.

We would also discuss the likely durability of the stone.  Some of this depends on the type of stone, but there are other factors such as where it will be situated.  For example, when we completed a memorial at Rudgwick Primary School which was always planned to be hung on a wall – we had to think carefully about whether this was in a covered area, and also the size and weight of it so that it wouldn’t affect the building it was attached to!

Many people are surprised by the length of time it takes to complete a stone.  It is a bit of a process: I’m not able to order the stone until we have received permission from the church or cemetery, but once I am able to do this, 25 weeks is a good guideline.  Our stone supplier only provides confirmation of delivery nearer to the time, so we can’t provide an estimation on completion date until the memorial is with us.  It’s worth knowing that the stone is often quarried in China, and therefore the shipping takes time.  There are also cultural differences in things such as public holidays, so they can be available or unavailable at work during different times of the year to our own closures.  Then, the length of time it takes to inscribe varies, so completion dates are subject to change.

There is no set price for a memorial, just as with funerals!  The cost would be calculated following an appointment with myself, based upon the type of stone and the design requirements.  I would then send a quote for you to review, and it’s your choice as to whether you accept.  If you would like to proceed, we work together to agree the design.  This is done by the letter cutter producing a drawing showing the proposed layout of the inscription, and if you require any changes or adjustments, we can discuss this.

All of our memorials are high grade – J. Gumbrill and our memorial masons are registered with the National Association of Memorial Masons (NAMM) and the British Register of Accredited Memorial Masons (BRAMM).  These organisations ensure that certain standards are met, and provided training for our team in order to ensure their work is of the correct quality.

Once the memorial is complete and in place, you’ll also receive a leaflet detailing how to care for it.  We are always happy to answer questions and offer advice regarding maintenance and cleaning.  If you would like more information, please get in touch.

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Written by Annissa Cole

Monumental Masonry Administrator

January 17, 2024

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