As with funerals, the process of ordering a memorial has changed during 2020 – Annissa of J. Gumbrill tells us more…
With branches across West Sussex, Freeman Brothers Funeral Directors has been serving the communities of Billingshurst, Crawley, Horsham and Hurstpierpoint since establishing in 1855. The company also incorporates J. Gumbrill Monumental Masons meaning that, together, the two companies are able to support local people in the provision of funeral services and memorial stonework, including the maintenance of stones.
Today, we take a closer look at what is involved in the process of ordering and designing a stone with J. Gumbrill. Due to ongoing social distancing restrictions, things at J. Gumbrill are working a little differently, as Annissa, who operates the administrative services of the company explains:
At the moment, we aren’t inviting customers into our offices and display area, as the process involves a prolonged period of contact which is avoidable. We’re also aware that some of our customers may be in the ‘vulnerable’ category, and therefore don’t want to put unnecessary pressure on anyone to do anything they’re not comfortable with.
My suggestion to those who would like to start the process of ordering a new stone is to visit their local churchyard or cemetery for ideas. It’s particularly helpful if you can visit the location you’d like your stone to be positioned, as what’s allowed can vary. Visiting the location of your choice means that you get a better idea of what is permitted there, rather than deciding that you like something isn’t possible.
If you can, do take photos of any stones you like whether it’s the colour, shape, font, or something else to do with the style. You can then email them to me, and our memorial mason and I can either visit the stone ourselves, or identify the type from the photo, in order to establish what you’d like.
We are finding that it can take a little longer than usual for stones to be completed at the moment. Due to the pandemic, many quarries and other businesses were closed for some months, and it’s taking a little while for them to resume operations. However, we’ll help as best we can and aim to get the stone you’d like as soon as possible. Although I’m not able to meet with you at our offices, if social distancing continues to permit it, I am able to meet you outdoors at a cemetery or churchyard, so if you aren’t able to email me photos – or have someone help you do so – we can arrange to meet up, though this is subject to change.
The remainder of the stonework ordering process is the same as prior to the pandemic, as Annissa continues to tell us…
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.
All of our memorial stones are made on a bespoke order basis, so we are able to design the stone to you individual requirements. We have sample designs on file too, so if you’re not sure of what you’d like, we can show you some options, and you can find lots of information on our website. 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 husband and father’. The other option available now is photo plaques – some people want to have a cameo-style photo added to the stone, to show the person who is remembered.
We base the measurements of the memorial on the inscription that you would like, as well as factoring in any future additions. This is because 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 a greater degree of scope 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 protocols via phone or email 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, in 2019 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, 20 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. The length of time it takes to inscribe varies, and supply levels of monumental-grade stone are variable, 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 a discussion 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 have any further questions regarding memorials, Annissa is always happy to help! You can find the J. Gumbrill website here, and contact Annissa by either phone or email.
Tel: 01403 254590
If you have an urgent query, please call 01403 254590. This number is answered by one our staff 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is the quickest way to reach us.
Tel: 01403 785133
25 & 27 Brighton Road
Tel: 01293 540000
126 High Street
Tel: 01273 831497