Tombstone with names of family is banned

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

A WIDOWER has been refused permission to erect a tombstone on his wife's grave because he wants it to carry her family's names.

Islington council in north London will not allow gravestones to be engraved with the names of living people. Only the name, date of death and age of the person interred can appear on the headstone, together with an approved commemorative verse.

Colin Barnett's wife, Aisling, died four years ago aged 35, shortly after the birth of their daughter, Hannah. She is buried in Islington Cemetery, Finchley.

Mr Barnett had a slab of Kilkenny stone shipped from his wife's native Ireland to be hand-carved.

'I knew I needed approval but it never occurred to me that anyone could be so petty,' he said. 'A lot of modern gravestones are hideous; I had in mind a traditional 18th-century stone, and these often bear the names of the dead person's spouse and children; this is a tradition going back to the Middle Ages.'

Melvyn Fenton, of the council's leisure services department, which is responsible for cemeteries, was not sympathetic. 'If he has had the stone carved before seeking approval, he has put himself in a rather unfortunate position.

'Our view is that memorials are to the dead and not the living and we do not permit names of living people on a headstone. This policy has been in use in the cemetery for many years.'

Mr Barnett is appealing against the decision.

'I'm not protesting just because I've already spent pounds 1,000 on the stone, but because I feel these people are abusing their authority and causing offence and suffering to the bereaved,' he said.

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