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Family told they can’t use terms like ‘mum, dad or pap’ on gravestone


St Michaels and All Angels at Bugbrooke – where a family wished to inscribe their relatives gravestone with the term ‘pap’ (Picture: Google)

A grieving family has been refused permission to use the word ‘pap’ on their relatives’ gravestone and have also been told terms like ‘mum and dad’ are not appropriate either.

Arthur James Goodridge’ relatives applied to use the term – a common Northamptonshire phrase – in their inscription on the memorial at St Michaels and All Angels at Bugbrooke.

But a Church of England judge has ruled that it does not fit with regulations and has also ruled out many other common terms of endearment.

Arthur died aged 85 in April 2019 and his relatives sought consent for his gravestone to be inscribed with the wording: ‘Treasured Memories of A Wonderful Husband, Dad and Pap, ARTHUR JAMES GOODRIDGE 1st May 1933-11th April 2019. You filled our lives with joy and laughter’

However, although their application was announced publicly and there were no objections, David Pittaway QC, Chancellor of the Diocese of Peterborough, in his role as a judge of the Church of England’s Consistory Court which has to approve such matters, has said no.

In a signpost ruling he also made it clear that he is against, not only use of the word ‘Pap’ or ‘Pappy’, but also ‘Dad, Mum, Granddad, Nan or Nanny,’ even though he said that churchyard regulations do not ‘outlaw’ but ‘discourage’ their use.

‘Pap’ has been used for centuries by children for their grandfathers and many tombs in the graveyard of the Grade II listed church already contain the word.

Mr Pittaway added: : ‘Of course, they are all terms of endearment in use in everyday lives but are not, in my view, generally appropriate for use as a public record of a person’s death.

‘In my view, it is more appropriate to use the more formal names of husband, wife, father, grandfather, grandmother as a permanent record of the relationships attributed to that person.’

Refusing consent he said gravestones should not be used as ‘an opportunity to be overly sentimental about the person who has died.’

He said: ‘I take a wider view in the exercise of my discretion as to the appearance of churchyards now and in the future, maintaining formality and dignity to those that are buried there and those who visit them, whether or not they are visiting that person’s grave or another person’s grave. In these circumstances the petition is dismissed.’

The family have now been told they must submit a further application that complies with his judgement.

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