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Frequently Asked Questions

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How long does it take to commission a memorial?

Commissioning a memorial can take from several months to over a year and ideally is not a process which should be hurried. Obtaining a suitable piece of stone from the quarry can often take several months and allowing plenty of time for thoughts to fall into place will often result in a better design. When placing a headstone it is in any case wise to allow a year to pass after the burial in order for the ground to recover its equilibrium.

How much does it cost?

A simple memorial (e.g. cremation tablet) can cost as little as a few hundred pounds, but a headstone with a lot of lettering and/or carving will be a few thousand pounds. Costs can vary for a number of reasons: the complexity of the design, the size, shape and type of stone or slate used and the installation requirements. Individual artists will be happy to discuss ideas and provide a guideline of costs without obligation.

When a commission is arranged through MbA a proportion of the artist’s fee goes to support the Charity’s work. This contribution helps to sustain the commissioning service and safeguards the UK’s lettering tradition through our Apprenticeship Scheme and programme of nationwide Lettering Workshops.

How do I decide upon the wording for the memorial?

When considering a memorial having an idea of what you want to say can be a very positive way of starting to think about the design, yet for many people settling on the words is one of the most difficult decisions. There is no universal formula: the epitaph may be as simple as a single name or it may run into as many words as will fit on the stone. The words (or lack of them) should be right for you and for the person you are remembering, not necessarily for anyone else. It can be helpful to look through letters that you have received — someone might have used a phrase that is totally apposite to the person being commemorated.

Is it true that there are rules about the type of memorial we can have?

Churchyards and cemeteries all have rules governing the size and type of memorials they allow and these vary from place to place. Cemeteries are usually controlled by local councils; their rules tend to be more liberal in terms of wording and carving, but more specific in terms of size and fixing. Churchyards all have a specific set of criteria, which varies from diocese to diocese. Your lettercarver will be able to help you interpret the rules.

Who will arrange permission to install the stone in the cemetery or churchyard?

Applying for permission is usually a formality, some artists will complete the application form on the client’s behalf whereas others ask the client to complete it themselves, but either way they will be able to guide you through the process.

How often will I need to visit the artist’s workshop?

It is always advisable to visit the artist’s studio or workshop before a drawing is made. This will enable you to discuss your ideas fully and see further examples of the artist’s work as well as samples of stone and slate. Very importantly, you will be able to ensure that you are in tune with one another’s ideas and that you both feel that you can work together. Many people also choose to visit when the work is underway, either to approve the design when it is drawn out onto the stone, or to see the memorial privately before it is set into place in the churchyard or cemetery. There is sometimes the opportunity for the family to add a small amount of carving themselves at this stage — often on the part of the stone that is to go beneath the ground. Children particularly benefit from feeling that they are leaving their own ‘secret’ message on the stone.

Can I pay in instalments?

Payment is by arrangement with the individual artist. Each have their own Terms and Conditions but most require an early deposit payment, followed by at least one further payment, with the final payment being made after the memorial has been set into place.

More help and information on these and many other topics can be found in our two publications: The Memorials by Artists Guide and Memorials by Artists for Young People. Alternatively you can ring us on 01728 688934


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