Stonemasonry

Stonemasonry

The experience and creativity of our stonemasons enable us to fashion a memorial to your precise specification whilst advising you of the best combination of materials and lettering.

We can also explain the regulations of the relevant churchyard or cemetery - not all designs and materials are accepted everywhere.

Meet the Stonemasonry Team

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Please click on the sections below to expand them and find out more about our stonemasonry services.

Types of Memorial

Lawn memorials

Lawn memorials.A lawn memorial is an upright headstone, with or without a base. It is generally a suitable design for churchyards and cemeteries.

A standard size stone is a headstone 27” x 21” x 3”, set on a 3” high base.A standard monolith is 30” tall out of the ground, with extra stone set into the ground for stability.Where local regulations allow, sizes can be changed to suit individual taste, or to fit the required wording.

Headstone with ogee top, set on a rectangular base bored twice, shown in all-polished black granite. Headstone with square top and ogee shoulders - shown in Nabresina stone

Top shapes

Central Norman arc with rounded shoulders, shown in Tropical Green granite. Arc top, shown in Karin Grey granite. Gothic arch top, shown here in Portland stone.
Gentle arc with scotia shoulders, shown in Steel Grey granite. Peon top with rounded shoulders, shown with a stepped margin in grey sandstone. Splayed corners, shown in marble.
Central Norman arc with ogee shoulders, shown in black granite. Norman arc top, shown in dark grey granite with a polished face and rustic edges. Square top with checked shoulders, shown in Balmoral Red granite.

Base designs

Rectangular base with fine rubbed top and rustic edges, shown in yellow sandstone. Base with bow front shown in Glenaby granite. The top of the base is polished and the edges sanded. 4" high base with centre splay for lettering, bored either side, shown in Tropical Green granite.

Flower containers

This design uses a wider base to make room for a stone vase. This stone has holes bored into the base.

Ornaments

Incorporating a carving or other ornament can be a good way to make the memorial personal to your loved one. It might reflect their religion, for example, or their work or interests. Please see the churchyard regulations page for information regarding ornaments.

Etching

Suitable mainly for dark granites, especially black. Etching removes the dark, polished face to reveal the grey, cut stone underneath.Etchings may be painted to enhance contrast, or to give more colour, but this paint will weather over time. Prices start from around £70 + VAT.

Relief carving

Usually made in softer stones than granite, relief carvings allow more subtlety and beauty of design.They will generally be drawn in consultation with the client, and then carved by hand. These are priced on an individual basis.

Outline designs

A simple outline design can be graceful and effective. It will usually be painted, gilded or leaded to contrast with the stone colour.

Prices start from around £30 + VAT

Price guide

Lawn memorials (standard size)

Prices are ex-VAT, but include cartage, fixing and flower containers where appropriate. Please also allow for lettering costs and any cemetery or churchyard fees payable.

Granite
From £800
Marble
£915
Nabresina
£990
York Stone
£870
Portland
£940
Green Slate
£1,450
Welsh Slate
£1,335
Purbeck
£1,390

Because we design every memorial according to your own particular requirements, the prices shown can only be used as a guide.

The cost of granite varies quite widely, according to the colour you choose. The prices given are for black granite - currently the cheapest.

Our masons will be happy to give a firm quotation when you are satisfied that the memorial design is right for your loved one.

Kerb sets

Memorials incorporating kerb sets are now usually permitted only in the traditional sections of certain cemeteries.

The space within the kerbs may be filled with earth for planting, or a concrete bed may be laid and topped with chippings of stone or coloured glass. Alternatively, it may be covered with a stone slab which can be lettered.

Here, a plain kerb set butts up to a heart-shaped headstone, with a cover slab. Shown in Blue Pearl granite. Here, a book memorial set on a base is placed on top of a kerb set to give the book more prominence. Shown in Rustenberg granite.

Chippings

Glass chippings are easy to clean, and available in a variety of colours. Stone chippings are more subtle in colour and texture, but are more difficult to maintain.

Blue glass Cobalt glass Lilac glass Green glass Marble Grey granite

Posts

Posts can be incorporated at the ends of the kerbs. These posts may be bored for flower containers.Alternatively, vases may be placed within the kerbs.

Price guide

Memorials with Kerb Sets

Based on a headstone 30" high x 30" wide, with plain kerbs and earth infill. Prices are ex-VAT, but include cartage, fixing and flower containers where appropriate. Please also allow for lettering costs and any cemetery or churchyard fees payable.

Granite Marble Nabresina York Stone Portland Green Slate Welsh Slate Purbeck
From £1,860 £1,895 £2,250 £1,865 £2,180 n/a n/a n/a

Cremation Memorials

A range of smaller designs, suitable for cremation areas. Local regulations may be quite specific about what is allowed. Our masons will be happy to advise you.

Please note - a smaller memorial will have less room for wording.
Please see our separate guide for advice on choosing an inscription.

A small headstone - this one is 18” high and 12” wide - set on a narrow base. Shown here in white marble. A simple book memorial is especially suitable where a second inscription is to be added in the future. Shown here in Nabresina limestone.
A tablet, 12” x 12” will normally be set flat in the ground. Shown here in Balmoral Red granite. The vase on the left, shown in white marble, has a checked top and is set on a small base. In the middle is a simple square vase, shown in Karin Grey granite. The turned vase on the right, shown in black granite, is better suited for decoration, rather than lettering.

Price guide

Cremation Memorials

Prices are ex-VAT, but include cartage, fixing and flower containers where appropriate. Please also allow for lettering costs and any cemetery or churchyard fees payable.

Medium size 24” x 18”

Granite
From £655
Marble
£725
Nabresina
£760
York Stone
£740
Portland
£750
Green Slate
£1,150
Welsh Slate
£1,080
Purbeck
£1,090

Small size 18” x 12”

Granite
From £540
Marble
£565
Nabresina
£620
York Stone
£575
Portland
£610
Green Slate
£925
Welsh Slate
£890
Purbeck
£930

Book memorial 12” x 18”

Granite
From £715
Marble
£695
Nabresina
£720
York Stone
£710
Portland
£710
Green Slate
n/a
Welsh Slate
n/a
Purbeck
n/a

Square vase on base

Granite
From £335
Marble
£340
Nabresina
£365
York Stone
£340
Portland
£370
Green Slate
n/a
Welsh Slate
n/a
Purbeck
n/a

Tablet 12” x 12”

Granite
From £260
Marble
£270
Nabresina
£280
York Stone
£265
Portland
£280
Green Slate
£345
Welsh Slate
£335
Purbeck
£355

Some variations.

There are many possibilities for smaller memorials. Some examples are show below, but we would be pleased to produce a design to your requirements.

Desk Vase Tablet, in black granite. The sloping face would be lettered, and the top may be bored for one or two flower containers. Small, wider headstone, set on a base bored for a flower container, shown in light Nabresina. A small, heart-shaped tablet, set on a base with a 4” tall vase. Shown in dark grey granite.
A small monolith headstone, shown here with an arc top in honed Karin Grey granite. The proportions can be changed to suit taste and the desired inscription. An 18” tall headstone, shown with an arc top in white marble, with a 4” vase for cut flowers.

 

 

Types of Stone

Choosing the type of stone for a memorial is an important decision, as many other aspects of the design will stem from that choice. Here is a brief guide. Our masons will, of course, be very happy to give you further advice.

Granite

Granite is the hardest memorial stone. This means that it will not weather over time, and is very easy to keep clean. It is available in a wide variety of colours, and the surface may be mirror-polished, honed (smooth), sanded (slightly rough) or rustic (very rough). The surface finish can affect the colour quite dramatically, especially in dark granites.

Because of its hard, granular structure, granites are better suited to simple, bold designs, rather than fine, intricate work. Please note that in Church of England churchyards, only honed light or mid-grey granite may be used.

Black Granite   Karin Grey Granite
Polished
Honed
Sanded
  Some Granite Colours  
Black Blue Pearl Balmoral Red
Dark Grey Karin Grey Lunar Grey

Welsh Slate

Welsh slate is without doubt the finest memorial stone available. Impervious to water, it will not weather over time and is easy to keep clean. It is very easy to carve and therefore suitable for fine letter design and carvings. Because of its layered structure, it is particularly suitable for 'monolith' headstones. It is not appropriate for designs requiring thicker masses of stone, e.g. very thick headstones or kerb sets.

Because of the complexities of extracting fine Welsh slate, it is relatively expensive compared to the other stones we offer. We would be happy to provide a no-obligation quotation on any Welsh slate design.

Limestones

The main types of limestone we use for memorials are Nabresina from Italy, Portland stone from Dorset and Purbeck, also from Dorset. They are all fine memorial stones, suitable for relief carving and hand-carved lettering. All limestones are porous, which means they will require regular cleaning to stay in good condition.

Nabresina

One of the hardest limestones available, Nabresina is a light grey/ beige colour, with a characteristic array of small shells in its structure. It is the only limestone suitable for leaded lettering.

Portland

Used for centuries for fine buildings and memorials, Portland is a quintessentially English stone. Pale cream in colour, it is fine-grained and easy to carve.

Other Memorial Stones

Purbeck

Another traditional English stone, Purbeck is available with a highly characteristic figure of large fossil fragments, or as a ‘Freestone’ which is almost free of shell. It is a very fine quality stone, but also relatively expensive.

York Stone

York stone is a grey/brown sandstone popular for use in churchyards. A relatively coarse-grained stone, it suits bold lettering and design. It also requires regular cleaning to prevent the build-up of algae, etc.

White Marble

Marble is a classic memorial stone suitable for leaded lettering. It has a fine, crystalline structure, which makes it good for relief carving and hand-cut lettering. Marble requires regular cleaning to stay in good condition.

Cumbrian Green Slate

Like Welsh slate this is an excellent memorial stone, long-lasting and good to carve. It is a harder stone than Welsh slate, and so less vulnerable to scratches.

Regulations

Monumental Masonry - Churchyard and cemetery regulations.

Nearly all cemeteries and churchyards have some form of regulation governing the type of memorial allowed. Most also charge a fee for permission to place a memorial, which is in addition to the purchase of the plot.

Cemeteries and other Burial Grounds

In general, cemeteries allow a much greater variety of stones, sizes and designs than churchyards.It is impossible to summarize regulations here, as each cemetery has its own set of rules.Our masonry team will be happy to advise you on the regulations for your chosen cemetery.Please be aware, however, that many cemeteries will only allow kerb sets in certain sections, and some do not allow kerbs at all.

Church of England Churchyards

All Church of England churchyards have strict regulations set by the diocese intended to preserve the historic character of the sites. These regulations dictate the size of memorial, the types of stone and design allowed, the wording, and even the colour of the lettering.

It is important to note that the incumbent in charge of the churchyard can only authorize memorials which comply with these regulations.

This can cause upset, as you may see non-regulation stones which were placed before the regulations came in, or which have been allowed ad hoc by previous incumbents.

The bottom line, however, is that churchyards may be inspected by diocesan officials, and any non-regulation memorials may have to be removed, even if the incumbent gave permission.

Summary of Church of England Regulations

Our stonemasons will, of course, be happy to answer any questions you may have about churchyard memorials.

Size:

Memorials must consist of an upright headstone, at least 2’6” tall x 20” wide. Smaller stones are permitted for child memorials, or for cremation areas where special permission has been granted by the Diocese.

Type of stone:

The following stones are permitted:

  • Light or mid-grey granite with a honed finish
  • Nabresina Limestone
  • Portland and Purbeck limestone
  • York stone
  • Welsh slate
  • Cumbrian Green slate

Dark or polished granites are not allowed, and neither is marble.

Design:

Lawn headstones, with or without a base, are permitted. Memorials in the form of books, hearts or crosses and kerb sets, are not allowed.

Ornament:

Traditional carvings - e.g. engraved cross or dove - are fine. More contemporary designs - e.g. football or teddy bear - would not be allowed.

Wording:

Inscriptions which inform the reader about the life of your loved one are encouraged, as are passages from scripture. 'Pet' names and sentimental wording which addresses the deceased are not permitted. Please see our Guide to Choosing a Memorial Inscription for examples.

Lettering Finishes:

Cut letters must be left un-painted, except for the following stones:

  • Nabresina - letters may be painted contrasting matt
  • Light/mid-grey granite - letters may be painted black matt
  • Welsh slate - letters may be painted off-white

Leaded letters and letters finished with gold leaf are not permitted.

Lettering

We offer a full service of hand cut and machine-cut lettering. All lettering is cut in our workshop, so you can see the inscription drawn out before cutting, and discuss any changes you require with a craftsman.

For advice on finding the right wording for your loved one, please see our separate - Guide to Choosing a Memorial Inscription.

Hand-cut or machine-cut?

Hand-cut lettering is drawn by hand and cut with a chisel. It allows total freedom of design. Machine-cut lettering is shot-blasted through a stencil produced from a selection of computer fonts which work well for stone.
Generally, but not always, we machine-cut granites and hand-cut the softer stones which carve better.

Hand-cut only York stone Hand-cut only Celtic Limestone Hand-cut and painted light blue
Hand-cut and gilded Flush-lead Machine-cut, various finishes

Lettering finishes

Both hand-cut and machine-cut letters are often finished with paint or gold leaf to make them easier to read. Regulations aside, the decision is based on taste. As with all outdoor finishes, you should bear in mind that the paint or gild will need to be renewed from time to time. In marble or Nabresina, the letters may be filled with lead, which provides a more water resistant, longer-lasting finish.

Raised lead

Raised lead lettering is a traditional style seen on hard stones, most often granites. A block of lead is secured into holes drilled in the stone surface, and the letter is then cut out of that block.

Done properly, it is a very long lasting letter. However, the lead is usually painted to improve visibility, and this will require occasional repainting.

These days, we most often use raised lead letters to match an existing inscription, when adding wording to an older stone.

Lettering Prices

Prices are per letter, ex-VAT

  Machine-cut Hand-cut (non granite) Hand-cut (granite)
Incised only £1.70 £2.20 £3.20
Incised & painted £1.90 £2.40 £3.40
Incised & gilded £2.50 £2.70 £3.70
Incised & flush lead-filled £2.90 £2.90 n/a
Raised Lead n/a £3.50 £3.50

Fixing

Monumental Masonry - Fixing a memorial.

Our stonemasons recognise the importance of securely fixing a memorial. No-one wants to see their stone tipping over, or worse, being taped up to a stake by cemetery staff. This page has some information about memorial fixing, and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

The National Association of Memorial Masons (NAMM)

NAMM sets the national standards for memorial fixing in its 'Code of Working Practice'. As members of NAMM, we are committed to keeping to these standards. When your new memorial is fixed, we will present you with a certificate stating that the work has been carried out correctly and giving you an address to contact in the unlikely event that you have a complaint that we are unable to resolve.

The Code of Working Practice sets strict criteria for the sizes of foundations, the dowels used for securing a headstone to its base, and all other fixing details, so you can be confident that the job is done properly.

How a Typical Lawn Memorial is Fixed

First, threaded stainless steel dowels are secured with resin into holes in the bottom of the headstone. These dowels go through holes drilled in the base, and nuts are tightened from underneath with a torque wrench to secure the headstone and base together with the correct pressure.

A 3” thick reinforced concrete foundation will be set into the ground on site, and a stainless steel ground anchor driven through it to help prevent tipping. The end of the ground anchor is left sticking up and this locates into a hole in the middle of the base when the memorial is placed, so that the stone cannot fall.

Monolith Headstones

Monolith headstones have a portion of the stone buried in the ground. The stone is fixed to a concrete foundation to ensure stability.

Why Do Memorials Tip?

There are two usual reasons why memorials lean over. One is that an inadequate foundation or ground anchor has been used. The NAMM Code of Working Practice assures neither will be the case.

Occasionally, however, a memorial may tip if the ground it sits on was cut away during digging of the grave. Even if left for the usual six months to settle, the ground can still be unstable in these circumstances. The memorial should stand on uncut ground, but modern digging methods sometimes eat into this ground.

If the ground is obviously unstable, we will recommend delaying installation. However, we do monitor our recently-fixed memorials, and if ground movement does occur, we pride ourselves on rectifying the situation without delay and, of course, without charge

What happens next?

Monumental Masonry - Information for ordering memorials.

There are various stages in creating a new memorial, and sometimes it can be a lengthy process. This page describes the procedure, but if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call.

Enquiry

If possible, we recommend a visit to our workshop to discuss your requirements with our stonemasons and to see the stones for yourself. We will be happy to produce drawings to help you in your decision. When we have finalised the design we will send you a formal, written quotation.

Quotation

If you are happy with the quotation you receive, we ask that you sign and return one copy to us. We normally require a deposit of one-third to confirm the order.

Cemetery or Churchyard Approval

We must gain approval from the cemetery or churchyard authority for each memorial. We will send you a form for the grave owner to sign and return to us. We will then complete the form and send it on. We can only proceed when approval has been granted.

Ordering Stone

If you are commissioning a new memorial, the stone may have to be ordered. Depending on your choice of stone, it can typically take 6 to 12 weeks for it to be delivered to us.

Layout

When we have the stone, we will mark out the inscription and any carving or design. This will be done in pencil for hand-cut letters, or as a computer print-out for machine-cut letters. We will invite you to check it as changes can easily be made at this stage.

Cutting

When you are wholly satisfied, we will cut the inscription. At busy times, there may be a small delay between checking the inscription and cutting it.

Completion

Once the work is complete, we will send our final account. When this has been settled, we will fix your memorial within seven days, weather and ground conditions permitting.

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Stonemasonry Workshop - St Leonards

Arthur C Towner Ltd
5A - 9 South Street
St Leonards-on-Sea
East Sussex
TN37 6AP

Tel: 01424 713 124
Email: stonemasons@towners.co.uk
Opening hours:

Please note - the workshop is not always manned. If there is no reply please call our main office number, 01424 436 386 (24 hours)