A recent discovery of chipped headstones and cornerstones at Townsend Cemetery has caused distress for families whose relative’s graves have been damaged. At least nine headstones, constructed of Portland stone and erected by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, have been chipped at the sides and several other graves have received similar damage to their cornerstones. Although it has not yet been confirmed what caused the damage, many believe that a ride on mower, with metal edges instead of rubber ones, may be responsible.

Townsend Cemetery is managed by the Crewkerne and West Crewkerne Joint Burial Committee. An onsite Cemetery Superintendent was previously employed but following his resignation last year, it was decided to make the post redundant and bring in outside contractors to carry out any maintenance work required and regularly cut the grass.

The damage to the graves has been reported to the Town Clerk and the Council’s Operations Manager has met with the contractor as investigations are carried out. The matter will be discussed further at this week’s meeting of Crewkerne and West Crewkerne Joint Burial Committee, which comprises of councillors from West Crewkerne Parish Council and Crewkerne Town Council, together with the Town Clerk.

In the Joint Burial Committee’s rules and regulations, section 1;11 states: ‘All damage caused to any boundary wall, fence, ground, paths, memorials or to any part of the cemetery must be repaired to the satisfaction of the Committee, by the party causing the damage.’

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