Skip to main content
Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

Bereavement Services

memorial wall

We are committed to providing information and guidance to support the needs and wishes of those families who are bereaved, preparing for bereavement, or making arrangements for their own funeral.

If someone close to you has died then you have a legal duty to register the death within 5 days, usually in the district where the death occurs.  To make arrangements to register a death please go to Register a death.

We offer information and advice on the following:

  • Your funeral wishes
  • Buying a grave
  • 'Rights' to a grave (transfer, assignment, addition of names and relinquishing or renouncing)
  • Independent funerals
  • Natural burials
  • Help with funeral expenses
  • Exhumation
  • Personalising a grave space
  • Memorials
  • Dedicated benches and trees
  • Commemorative wall plaques
  • Cemetery management

If you would like to speak with a member of the Bereavement Services Team to discuss burial or funeral arrangements in private and confidentially, visit us at the Register Office, no appointment is necessary. Alternatively you can contact us on 01642 527341 or 01642 527342. Please see the following information for further details.


Your funeral wishes

To help you make decisions about what you would wish for your funeral, we have produced a leaflet 'Please consider my 'wishes' for my funeral'. This gives you the opportunity to make your own choices and ensures that friends and family are prepared.

If you would like a copy of the document, together with other supporting leaflets, please contact the Bereavement Services team (contact details on right hand side of this page) or visit us at the Register Office.


Buying a grave

When purchasing a grave, the ground itself remains the property of the Council, but you are given the 'Right' to open the grave for burial and the 'Right' to place and maintain a memorial.

The exclusive 'Right' of burial is granted for 50 or 100 years for an adult grave, and 25 years for graves in the Cremated Remains Gardens and Babies' Burial Gardens. Once expired, the 'Rights' can be extended at a reduced fee.

The exclusive 'Right to Erect and Maintain a Memorial' is granted for 30 years, which commences at the point a memorial is installed. A memorial mason will issue a  Certificate of Compliance (see 'Memorials' below) which will run for the same period of time. Once expired, the 'Rights' can be extended for periods of 5 years at a time, provided the memorial meets the required safety standards.

If you wish to purchase a grave for burial in the future please contact Bereavement Services (contact details on right hand side of this page) and we will be happy to advise and assist you in your choice.


Durham Road Cemetery (Extension) Grave Options

The new extension to Durham Road Cemetery offers a range of grave types which will provide families with a greater degree of choice in the way a grave may be personalised. Please see our leaflet: “Durham Road Cemetery (Extension) Grave Options” for more details, or speak to the Bereavement Services Team (contact details on the right hand side of this page) who will be pleased to advise and assist you with your choice. Please note that these grave options are exclusive to the Durham Road Cemetery Extension, and are not presently available in other sections of the Borough Cemeteries.


'Rights' to a grave (transfer, assignment, addition of names)

The transfer of 'Rights',(ie the ownership of the grave) is a legal process whereby those individuals having entitlement are determined by legal documents, such as a Will, Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration. In the absence of such legal documentation we will prepare a Statutory Declaration for you, which must include all blood-line next-of-kin and which you must then swear before a Solicitor or Commissioner for Oaths.

If the grave is to be opened for the burial of the owner (Grantee), the necessary transfer form and information will be sent after the burial to the person who has made the arrangements.

The assignment of 'Rights' is where the living Grantee can choose to completely transfer ownership of the 'Rights' to a grave to someone else.

The ownership of a grave can be shared, and the addition of names can be made by the living Grantee.

Please contact Bereavement Services (contact details on right hand side of this page) for help and guidance about grave ownership.


Independent funerals

It is often assumed that funerals can only be arranged through a funeral director. However, some of the funeral arrangements can be made directly with us, the Mortuary Office or the Crematorium Office, others the family would need to arrange themselves.

You may not wish to arrange everything yourself and may choose to use a funeral director for some aspects, but being aware and informed of your options provides for greater choice which will help you in the decisions you need to make for the funeral.

For help and advice about making your own arrangements for private burial, please visit us at the Register Office, no appointment being necessary, or contact the Bereavement Services team (contact details on right hand side of this page).


Natural burials

A natural burial or 'green' burial is one that is intended to be kinder to the environment and where the burial area becomes part of the landscape, providing a natural habitat for wildlife. When choosing a natural burial, consideration should be given to using materials and products that naturally bio-degrade such as cardboard and wicker coffins and woollen shrouds.

Although we do not have a natural burial ground, we hope to offer this option to families in the near future.

For more comprehensive guidance please visit the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management.


Help with funeral expenses

If you are on a low income and need help to pay for a funeral that you are arranging, you may be able to get a Funeral Payment from the Social Fund. You may have to repay some or all of if it from the estate of the person who died.

For more information including how to make a claim, please go to the Department for Work and Pensions.



Exhumation is the removal of human remains from their place of interment. It is unlawful to disturb human remains, including cremated remains, without obtaining necessary legal permission by Licence or Bishops Faculty; in some circumstances both will be required.

Before considering exhumation, we would strongly recommend that family members speak to our Bereavement Services Officer on 01642 527343, who will be able to advise on the procedures followed at an exhumation, the cost implications and the possibility of additional emotional distress to the family.

Alternatively please visit the Register Office.


Personalising a grave space

Since the introduction of lawn sections in 1969 the Council has not authorised the placing of fixed kerbs in any section of a cemetery. We do appreciate that some families need to tend and care for their family grave by placing personal items and we now offer a designated area at the head of the grave.

By containing tributes within this personalisation area we can ensure that funeral directors, coffin bearers and mourners have a clear pathway to the graveside; families and visitors with mobility problems have easy access and the management and maintenance of graves is unrestricted.

If a grave has kerbs and/or items placed on the whole of the grave space and a further burial is required, it is the responsibility of the family to remove these items before we are able to prepare the grave for burial.

For more information on personalising a grave space, please see our leaflet Personalising a grave space or contact the Bereavement Services team (contact details on right hand side of this page).



After burial in a new adult grave, a marker will be placed for approximately 14 months allowing families time to think about their commemoration and compare cost between memorial masons.

Only one headstone, cremated remains vase or baby memorial is allowed to be placed and must be within the regulatory size, please see the Rules and Regulations in respect of the Borough Cemeteries for additional information.

Memorial masons applying for work in the Boroughs cemeteries must have a Fixers Licence and be registered with either the British Register of Accredited Memorial Masons (BRAMM), the National Association of Memorial Masons (NAMM), or NAMMs Register of Qualified Memorial Fixers (RQMF). We can provide a contact list of local masons who are approved to carry out work in our cemeteries and we can also advise about others who are not listed.

After placing a memorial, the mason will issue you with a Certificate of Compliance which is valid for 30 years. This confirms that it has been fixed to the NAMM Code of Working Practice and to British Standard 8415. All memorials are subject to the Council's Management of Memorial's Policy in-line with national guidelines for memorial safety.

If you would like more information about placing a memorial, please contact the Bereavement Services team (contact details on right hand side of this page).


Dedicated benches and trees

A dedicated bench or tree can make a fitting tribute or memorial to a loved one. 

You can apply for a dedicated bench, with or without a plaque, for periods of 5, 10 or 15 years.  Alternatively you may wish to apply for a dedicated tree.


Commemorative wall plaques

At Billingham, Durham Road and Thornaby cemeteries there are memorial walls on which commemorative plaques, made from naturally sourced Scottish Caithness Stone, can be placed for a lease period of 20 years. The walls provide for a personal, lasting tribute to remember and celebrate a loved one.

The plaques are available in two sizes and can be personalised with either a design from our brochure, your own personal design, or with a ceramic photo plaque. If you would like more information and an application pack, please contact the Bereavement Services team (contact details on right hand side of this page).


Cemetery management

As well as the support we offer families, we also manage the following cemeteries:

  • Billingham: Wolviston Back Lane, Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees, TS23 3LR (opened 1969)
  • Durham Road: Stockton-on-Tees, TS19 0EA (opened 1894)
  • Egglescliffe: Butts Lane, Egglescliffe, Stockton-on-Tees, TS16 9BT (opened 1980)
  • Oxbridge Lane: Stockton-on-Tees, TS18 4AP (opened 1871)
  • Thornaby: Acklam Road, Thornaby, Stockton-on-Tees, TS17 7LD (opened 1869)

The cemeteries are open all year round.