As well as headstones, other bespoke memorials can be commissioned to celebrate a life. They are not always in cemeteries or churchyards. Often, we will hang a memorial plaque inside a church or Cathedral.
Commemorative plaques will often celebrate the lives of more than one person, for example, as illustrated on the plaque we made which hangs in St Paul’s Cathedral commemorating lives lost in Antarctica in the pursuit of science.
Ledger stones are flat gravestones that normally cover the area of the grave, sometimes raised a few inches above ground level. They are often grand and look very handsome.
I am often asked to make a memorial plaque to hang on the internal wall of a church. This has to be one of the greatest honours; knowing that the plaque is likely to be preserved safely for hundreds of years. It is a wonderful chance to be creative. Gold leaf is often used as well as a wash of paint in the lettering.
Obtaining a faculty from the Diocese is always necessary for work inside a church. This can be a lengthy process, but if the work is supported by the parish vicar, approval is usually just a matter of time.
If the plot contains cremated remains it will often be much smaller; 12” x 12” for example. Here we are somewhat limited in what we can say. It will need to be brief but clear and strong. However even at this size there is room for creativity, for example a circular stone tablet will instantly draw the eye to read it, especially if the wording is flowing in a circle.
Ledger stones will usually cover the full 6ft 6” length of the grave and will only be used for burials. We have experience in their installation, which needs to be done very carefully.
The choice of material for a memorial plaque depends on things like setting, amount of natural light, and the text. Wall plaques are often in dark and dimly lit churches and will need clear lettering. Often space is an issue and so the letterforms can be small. Therefore it is crucial there is a contrast between the lettering and the material. A hard material is used such as slate or a hard limestone as the plaque is often no more than 30mm thick.
Unless the plaque is built into the wall, the thickness of the plaque should be no more than 30mm. Therefore a hard material is selected. Slate is ideal; it is hard and the lettering easy to read. It takes painted and gilded heraldry beautifully and is soft in appearance. Light coloured materials are Hopton Wood limestone (when available), Aurisina and Nabresina.
If the softer Portland limestone were to be chosen then the lettering would need to be much larger and deeply cut especially since it cannot be painted. If a particular stone is required to suit the fabric of the building we can source and work with pretty much any material.
Flat memorials will tend to weather faster than upright headstones and so will need to be made from a hard material such as slate.
We specialise in fine headstones for graves. For more details see our service section on bespoke headstones.
The cost of a memorial depends on the size, material, complexity, and distance from our studio. Our cremation memorials start at £4000 + VAT, whereas our headstones start at £6500 + VAT.
Fergus will be able to help you with the wording. He will advise you on the amount of text as well as the content if you need help. We have compiled a long list of epitaphs and memorial wording ideas which can be found in our section "Advice and Inspiration".
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