Widow: 'Heartless' council won't allow extra 4 inches for my husband's headstone

Christine Snell and her husband Jon had been married for nearly 50 years when he died

Christine Snell and her husband Jon had been married for nearly 50 years when he died. She is pushing for a headstone the family want at his grave in Exning - Credit: Supplied by family

A widow has said she is not standing down in a "tussle" with the parish council over the size of her husband's headstone.

Christine Snell, from Exning, near Newmarket, wants an appropriate headstone at her husband's cemetery plot in Laceys Lane, but says the parish council is being "heartless" to refuse her an extra four inches width.

Jonathan Snell, known as Jon, who had worked as a sheet metal worker at Marshall aerospace company in Cambridge, died on July 27, 2020, aged 71.

Jonathan Snell's grave at the Laceys Lane cemetery in Exning

Jonathan Snell's grave at the Laceys Lane cemetery in Exning - Credit: Christine Snell

According to Exning Parish Council cemetery regulations, any headstone in the Laceys Lane cemetery should not be more than two feet wide (or 24 inches).

Mrs Snell, 68, said she was only asking for an extra two inches either side, adding: "A tussle over four inches! It's absolutely crazy. I don't understand."

Mrs Snell, a mother-of-four said the situation was "absolutely horrendous" and "heart-breaking" and she wanted people to know.

She also said she was not giving up, adding: "If they want a fight, they have got a fight on their hands.

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"It's not that I want anything outlandish or ridiculous, but they just will not budge.

"Myself and my family are absolutely devastated. My husband was a big man, a chunky man. We wanted something that reflected his character."

She added: "It just highlights bureaucracy and how stupid it is."

The family had hoped the headstone would be in place in August, after the earth had had adequate time to settle, but it is on hold until the situation is resolved.

Mrs Snell said she spoke at an Exning Parish Council meeting last month, but was unable to persuade councillors to adjust the rules.

Christine Snell from Exning wants a 28inch wide headstone for her husband Jon, but she says the parish council "won't budge"

Christine Snell from Exning wants a 28inch wide headstone for her husband Jon, but she says the parish council "won't budge" - Credit: Christine Snell

This is despite there being other headstones at the cemetery of a similar size to what her family want, she claims.

Mrs Snell said: "I think it's terribly heartless, I really do." 

There have also been issues with Mrs Snell planting at the plot, as according to the rules "the planting of shrubs, plants, flowers and the like on graves at the Laceys Lane cemetery is not permitted in
any circumstances".

She said she had to pull up daffodils that had started to bloom that she had planted in his memory as he loved the yellow flowers.

She said the family had not been aware when they bought the plot that it was a lawn cemetery - where the grounds are mowed - which means she was also unable to have kerb stones at her husband's grave.

Mrs Snell said Mr Snell, who was born and bred in the village, "would be upset about what's going on".

She added with it being a double plot, which will be hers too one day, she needs it to be right.

Mrs Snell said: "He liked simple things in life - going to the local seaside, he liked a little bit of gardening and maintained the cars when he was well enough and spending time with the family really."

Exning Parish Council has been approached for comment, but is yet to respond.

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