Houghtons Funeral Directors The Modern Funeral Service
Houghtons Funeral DirectorsThe Modern Funeral Service

A Funeral Service In Church

19th July 2021


There are no government restrictions to the maximum number of attendees allowed in a church or ceremonial hall.



15th February 2021


Please be advised that all funeral services held in a church or a ceremonial hall are restricted to a maximum of 30 attendees. The current guidelines (from 14th August 2020) state...

"A modest number of close friends and family of the deceased may attend although funerals should have no more than 30 people in attendance. Attendance should also be within the capacity limits of the premises so that social distancing can be strictly adhered to. In some cases that may be less than 30 people. See further detail under the section on management of the venue"

The guideleines also suggest that more attendees are permitted....

"Gatherings of more than 30 people will be permitted but only in certain public places as set out in law. This will include places of worship and their surrounding premises. There are however activities where it is advisable to restrict numbers to 30 within a place of worship for public health reasons. This guidance sets out those activities as well as how to ensure your place of worship is COVID-19 secure". A funeral is one of those activities and therefore the restriction of 30 applies.


15th February 2021


We have been advised from Revd Neil Shaw, Warrington Area Dean, that St Elphin's, St Mary's Great Sankey, St Barnabas, St Anne's Orford, The Church of the Ascension Woolston and St Paul's Penketh are available for Funeral Services within church prior to cremation or burial. We will be able to provide details for each church's restrictions to the amount of mourners allowed to attend inside to maintain social distancing (and to a maximum of 30 people).

The remaining church's in Warrington are individually looking whether services can be safely held in the church and we will update this information once it becomes available.


St Mary's Church, Great Sankey


18th January 2021


With immediate effect we have been informed from the PCC that the maximum number of attendees for funeral services at St Mary's Church will be 18.

It could be possible more people to attend outside the Church, socially distanced to a maximum of 12 people (of any age) in line with the guidelines (Issued 14.08.2020) with the restriction of 30 attendees in total.



The Catholic Church


The Catholic Dean of Warrington, Fr Dave Heywood, has released the following information in association with the guidance issued by the Archbishop and how this effects funerals held in churches within Warrington. We would suggest that elements of the release will resonate through other parishes including Widnes, Runcorn and St Helen's for the time being.



7th October 2020


While some of the clergy have felt able to resume funerals in church during the last couple of months, the continuing rise in the number of infections in Warrington means we need to reconsider the wisdom of doing this at the current time.
Therefore, out of an abundance of care and caution – not only for those attending funerals, but also for the parishioners who must act as stewards – from today, 7 October, all Catholic funerals will be celebrated at the graveside or the crematorium.


2nd August 2020


The following Catholic Churches will continue to remain closed for the time being: St Bridget’s in Cinnamon Brow, St Oswald’s in Padgate, and Sacred Heart on Liverpool Road.
The following Catholic Churches are now able to hold funerals in church: St Alban’s in Bewsey and St Peter’s in Woolston.
The following Catholic Churches will continue to celebrate funerals at the graveside or the crematorium for the time being: St Benedict’s, St Joseph’s in Penketh, St Paul of the Cross in Burtonwood and St Stephen’s in Orford.
We will review this provision at the end of August.


28th June 2020

Some of the Catholic Churches in Warrington are now open for private prayer. From Monday 6 July, the Archbishop has given permission for the public celebration of Mass to resume in our churches.
Since we have to do this very carefully and in line with all public health protocols, and given that we need a large number of volunteers to accomplish this safely, we are taking the resumption of public worship slowly, one step at a time.
Therefore, in Warrington, some Catholic Churches will remain closed for the time being. They are: St Bridget’s in Cinnamon Brow, St Oswald’s in Padgate, and Sacred Heart on Liverpool Road.
We have also decided not to proceed with the celebration of funerals in church at this time. So, for the time being, we will continue to celebrate all Catholic funerals at the graveside or the crematorium. 


The Parish Team at St Wilfrid's have released the following


1st July 2020

with effect from Tuesday 14th July funerals will be permitted in 2 of our churches.

There are necessary limitations as detailed here:

  • Funeral services only (not Requiem Masses) - *updated 8th July 2020 
  • St Michael’s Church           Tuesdays and Thursdays
  • St Bede’s Church               Mondays and Fridays
  • Maximum of 30 people in attendance
  • Face coverings must be worn in church by everyone
  • No singing but suitable church music can be played

We anticipate that some families will continue to choose the graveside service or crematorium, as numbers attending in church are so restricted.  This just gives bereaved families the option to come into church for a short funeral service if they wish.

* 8th July 2020

Further guidance has been received from the Archbishop and we are now able to offer Requiem Masses; the same restrictions apply in terms of numbers, days, venues, social distancing etc as detailed in our previous correspondence:


  • St Michael’s Church           Tuesdays and Thursdays
  • St Bede’s Church               Mondays and Fridays
  • Maximum of 30 people in attendance
  • Face coverings must be worn in church by everyone
  • No singing but suitable church music can be played


Importantly, it is to be stressed that during Requiem Masses ONLY the celebrant priest will be allowed to receive Holy Communion not the congregation.



Anglican/Church of England


The House of Bishops Recovery Group have issued guidelines which will facilitate the possibility of resuming church services for funerals.


The issue of these guidelines firmly places the onus on each individual Church whether they are able to offer a service in their own Church. Houghtons are pleased with the new guidance however we are also aware that this could be a very challenging update and would ask all families to please bear with us. We need to properly assess the viability with each and every church so that we can arrange the service within the family's expectations.


3rd June 2020

Funerals present one of the most urgent, difficult and often cruellest tensions that exist between the realities of human need and the demands that must be met if the current Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak is to be brought under control. When a loved one dies, our natural human desire is to be surrounded by others in order to experience their comfort and support through presence, touch, prayer and a common acknowledge of grief and loss. It is also known that during the current outbreak of COVID-19, the very gatherings and contact desired by those who grieve are precisely what must be avoided, or at the very least restricted, if transmission of the virus is to be brought under control.This tension may not be readily acknowledged by those suffering from the bewilderment, pain and agony of grief. The challenge for those leading funerals is with gentleness and compassion to enable those who mourn to find ways though the realities of the current situation that acknowledges both their needs as people who grieve and the needs of the whole community to bring COVID-19 under control. This poses a phenomenal challenge for those charged with taking funerals. Where possible, the expectations and needs of those who mourn should be satisfied, while at the same time holding in place the good practice needed to enable the safety of the whole community at this time. The aim of this advice is to support clergy and others who take funerals. Every parish and each church building is different and there can be no one size fits all solution. Churches will need to assess how, and in some cases whether, they are able to conduct funerals safely in their parishes in the light of the advice below. 


The guidance given subject to government advice and direction on the number of people attending funerals in a church will depend on two factors:

Firstly, the space available so a safe distance of at least 2 metres (6ft or 3 steps) can be maintained between households at all times during the service, including entering and leaving the building.


Secondly, the number of people that a minister feels they can effectively ‘manage’ during a service.


Churches may need to set caps on numbers in order to ensure the factors above are met. Alongside the member of clergy, the funeral director and staff, the government has stated that only the following should attend:

Members of the person’s household

Close family members or if the above are unable to attend, close friends

The size and circumstance of the church will determine the maximum number that can be accommodated whilst also facilitating physical distancing, but numbers should be minimised as far as

possible. In addition and in light of the government advice above, some people are not encouraged to attend the service, such as an organist, verger, sound system operator etc which could also directly impact on the content of the service e.g.

Hymns and singing are not advised as this may encourage droplet and aerosol spread. Recorded music should be encouraged as the next best option. If a sound operator is not available then the service Houghtons want to reassure families that we would be able to facilitate this.


This advice follows government guidance which is constantly evolving and Houghtons will update this information as soon as it is possible.


If you would like to discuss the availability of a specific church please contact us and we would be happy to make all the necessary enquiries.


The full release from The House of Bishops Recovery Group can be reviewed here



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