Graveyard repairs begin in Kings Langley

Repairs are required in certain areas of the graveyard at All Saints Church, Kings Langley, because of grave sinkage - a gradual natural phenomenon that affects all cemeteries. The damage has made some sections of the graveyard unsafe for both the public and our Clean, Safe and Green grounds maintenance team.

However, we have started commissioning specialist contractors to make the hazardous parts of the graveyard safe, whilst maintaining the sections of the graveyard that can be maintained without repairs.

We were planning localised repairs to make the ground safe for maintenance when the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak first struck, and then the combination of rain and sunshine led to the very rapid growth of grass.

Councillor Alan Anderson, Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services, said: "There has been some public confusion about who is responsible for the grass cutting in the All Saints graveyard.

"When a graveyard becomes full, the responsibility for its maintenance passes to a local council, so All Saints is not responsible for the maintenance of its graveyard. Meanwhile, it is not the case that the grass just needs to be cut - significant works costing tens of thousands of pounds are required to make the graveyard safe before anyone can cut all the grass in the graveyard.

"It is going to take an extensive amount of work to resolve the ground movement problems, and this project demonstrates our commitment to the safety of the public and our staff."

The excavation of a grave, or any other reasonable size hole, results in the loosening of the excavated material. When soil is replaced into a grave, it will inevitably contain more air pockets than the compacted soil before excavation. Over time, a backfilled grave will 'sink' as the air pockets escape and the soil settles. This is absolutely natural and practically unavoidable, especially in wet weather.

The amount and frequency of grave sinkage depends upon numerous factors, including:

  • Nature of the backfilled soil
  • Nature of the surrounding ground
  • Depth of excavation
  • Amount of rain, or rainwater run-off
  • Groundwater level

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