FAQ: Questions & Answers About Memorials & Headstones
Ordering a memorial is not something people do every day; this can leave people a bit confused as to where to start and how to proceed with ordering a stone. Hopefully this section should make the process a little easier for you to choose a memorial and plan an inscription for them.
Q. Who do I speak to about a stone?
A. Quite often your undertaker will be able to deal with the ordering of the stone; however it’s always best to deal direct with a stonemason.
Q. What type of stone do I use?
A. There are many different types of stone used in memorial work; however they fall into two basic categories. The hard stones which are Granites and the softer stones which are Marble, Nabresina, Portland, Slate and York stones.
The Granites come in varying colours and textures, however they tend to be medium to darker shades. Granite is the most durable material for headstones and can have a high polished finish that tends to stay cleaner for longer.
Marble and Nabresina are softer than granite but still have good durability, the colours are
white, beige and pale greys, the surface finish is fine rubbed and these stones take to carving well.
Slate is also a very durable material and a good choice for hand carved lettering and memorial plaques. It comes in two colours which are blue/grey or dark green.
Portland and York stone are traditional English stones and are popular for church yard memorials. The colours are beige or greenish grey through to grey. These stones tend to be softer than the others though and acquire a weathered look faster.
Q. Which lettering is best?
A. Most lettering these days is blasted into the surface of the stone and has a u shaped profile, on Granite it is usually gilded or painted. This is down to personal choice and guidance by the stonemason over what will look best. Both methods have limited durability depending on circumstance but are relatively easy to re- do when it’s needed. You should expect this type of lettering to last around ten years.
Marble and Nabresina type stones can be gilded, painted or lead filled letters. The lead filled letters can be more complicated to re-do but is more durable than painting or gilding.
Hand cut lettering is also available and is used a lot on traditional type memorials. This type of lettering gives scope for more design in the letters giving them more character. This lettering has a “v” shaped profile of classic carved letters.
Q. What regulations are there?
A. All councils and churchyards have size and material regulations; these can vary from one authority to another. Your Stonemason will be able to advise you about these regulations and the relevant fees that have to be paid for memorials. The stonemason will have to make application for the stone in a form of a letter or provided paperwork which is forwarded with the fee.
Q. What about the inscription?
A. Some people have a good idea of the inscription they want to put on a stone, others are not so sure about what is appropriate or ideal for their loved one and need some guidance. In this case it’s always best to talk to the stonemason who will have examples of inscriptions and help to plan an inscription with you. This ensures that you are happy with your memorial when it is completed.
Q. How do I pay?
After deciding on your stone and planning your inscription, the stonemason will be ready to order your headstone;
at this point a deposit will be required. The remainder of the cost will be paid on completion of the memorial.
Q. How long does it take?
A. Most authorities recommend six months to a year before placing a headstone, this allows for ground settlement. Ordering a stone can take as long as twelve weeks for delivery depending on the circumstance. My recommendation is to visit your stonemason about three months before you would like your memorial to be positioned. In the case of cremation memorials, the time can be much shorter and some people have their cremation stone placed after the burial of ashes in the right conditions.