The safety of Ashford’s residents and visitors is very important to the council, and cemetery inspections and monitoring ensure all headstones are safe and stable for visitors tending to loved ones graves.

Ashford Borough Council has announced memorial safety inspections are to be carried out in the borough’s open and closed cemeteries from March 2023 onwards.

Notices have been put up in the cemeteries to make people aware that the inspection process is due to begin and letters to the owners (where known) of graves with memorials up to 30 years old will be sent out explaining the upcoming inspections.

If residents receive a letter that is addressed to a previous occupant please contact the council by calling 01233 330472 or emailing to prevent further letters being sent. Alternatively if you have not received a letter in relation to a grave you believe you own please get in touch with the council.

Memorial safety inspections will be carried out in open cemeteries which include Canterbury Road Cemetery, Willesborough Cemetery, Tenterden Cemetery and Bybrook Cemetery, and continue into our closed burial grounds which we maintain.

Throughout the inspections all cemeteries will remain open as normal and visitors are still welcome to visit during the normal opening hours.

All inspections will be carried out by competent staff who are trained in memorial inspection safety testing. They will place the memorials into one of three categories.

Memorials listed under :-

  • Category 1 will require immediate action to make it safe. This may result in the memorial being carefully laid flat/rested to alleviate any risk of injury.
  • Category 2 memorials are not fully stable and need to be monitored annually to assess any further deterioration.
  • Category 3 memorials are perfectly stable and will be re-inspected in 5 years.

Further letters will be sent to memorial owners to let them know the outcomes of our inspections, alongside outcomes on noticeboards at the relevant cemetery and on the council website.

This is the second time the council will be undertaking the detailed inspection since the 5 yearly checks came into effect, with the aim to ensure the continued upkeep and safety of the borough’s cemeteries.


The council would like to highlight that the responsibility for memorials lies with its owner. This includes its safety and any maintenance costs. We strongly advise owners not to test the memorials as they may injure themselves or other members of the public and can even cause damage to the memorial itself.

In addition, the council is kindly asking cemetery visitors to stay within the footpaths, avoid touching the memorials and ensure children do not enter cemeteries unsupervised.

Cllr Matthew Forest, Portfolio Holder for Environment, Property and Recreation said: “Cemeteries are a place for people to have a moment of quiet contemplation. We want to provide a cared for, safe and pleasant place for families and friends to visit loved ones, now and in the future.

“We want to preserve special memories by looking after the gravestones for the benefit of our visitors. We will be conducting the work sensitively and with every effort not to disturb those who are reflecting.”

Information on the inspections, including inspection findings are available on the council website at

Residents can get in touch on 01233 330472 or email

For more information on Ashford’s cemeteries and memorials visit

By Ed

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