What is the National Burial Grounds Survey?

The National Burial Grounds Survey (NBGS) is a seven year project to survey and accurately map all Church of England (CoE) churchyards, in England, diocese by diocese, churchyard by churchyard.

Why do a National Burial Grounds Survey?

This is the first time a project like this has been done anywhere in the world. The Cathedral and Church Buildings Division of the Church of England have mapped the location of all their churchyards (including extensions and other burial grounds), which can be viewed on the Church Heritage Record. This detailed recording is the next phase of the NBGS and will record every square inch of every churchyard in England, photograph all the visible memorials and scan and transcribe all the parish registers. As well as them knowing the extent of all the churchyards, exactly where they are and where the features within them are located, valuable historic records will be preserved. Photographs of all the memorials (excepting very recent or sensitive examples), some of which may deteriorate over the next few years, fall down or be laid flat, will provide a comprehensive catalogue. All the information will be in one place and of a consistent standard and quality.

What are the Benefits of the NBGS?

  • It will provide parishes with a highly efficient tool to help manage their churchyards and maintain their burial records;
  • All records and information will be of a consistent standard
  • It will provide a detailed, up-to-date and accurate on-screen churchyard map showing the location of each memorial, the footprint of the church building and other details such as trees, paths, buildings, benches etc.;
  • It will help parishes manage future burials and provide complete confidence about the reservation of grave spaces;
  • It will help visitors to find their relatives’ graves
  • It will provide information for faculty applications and churchyard management plans, enable measurements of distance and area and much more;
  • It will mean parish registers are backed up safely and securely and protect the originals from loss and deterioration;
  • It will help with management of the biodiversity of churchyards;
  • It will become a tremendous asset to schools, education and research.

How much will it cost each church?


What does each church have to do?

In preparation, each church will be asked to give permission for the registers to be scanned. We will also ask that you:

  • Tidy the church grounds by cutting the grass or sweeping away leaves. Anything hidden cannot be surveyed and mapped
  • Provide any current registers for scanning
  • Be available on survey day to provide access to the church interior

What Else is included in the Survey?

Every memorial in the churchyard will be photographed and all the parish records – baptism, marriage and burial records and any bishop’s transcripts – will be scanned and their content transcribed. The photographs, scanned images and transcribed records will be linked to the map of the churchyard.

How can I find out more?

Complete and submit the ‘CONTACT US’ form or call us on 01768 216768