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Council says Sudoku memorial must be removed

9 December 2013

A council's decision to demand the removal from its cemetery of a memorial with a sudoku puzzle and a mathematical equation on it has hit the national press.

The story appeared in the Chester Chronicle and has been picked up by the national press and the BBC. The council, Farndon Parish Council, met again this month (November), but has still not reached a decision about whether the memorial can stay or has to go. It might change its mind about the stone having to be removed in the glare of all the publicity, or it might decide to dig its heels in.

The council has refused to name the masonry company that supplied the memorial but is not a secret because the company's name is on the back of it – it is Heritage Stone based in Chester. The Council says the masons did not obtain approval of the design before the stone was installed.

Dawn Murray of Heritage Stone says she did apply for permission to install the stone. She says she had not heard from the council subsequently, but that was normal. The council is now considering changing its procedures so that it will in future issue permits for memorials to be installed.

The memorial had been in the cemetery for 11 months before the council objected, says Dawn.

She told Natural Stone Specialist she had no reason to believe there would be any objection to the sudoku memorial because "there's all sorts in there". A memorial nearby has a cat in a basket engraved on it and another subsequently installed by Heritage Stone has a boy's hand releasing a butterfly. 

Dawn says when the council said the memorial had to be removed, the widow of the deceased man who the stone commemorates, told Heritage Stone not to touch it. The widow said it was her stone and the masons had no right to remove or alter it, which they had to agree with.

The national press has said the memorial is in St Chad’s Church graveyard but it is, in fact, in a cemetery run by the council behind the churchyard.

The memorial is to Allen Robinson, who was 66 when he died last year. His family says the Sudoku square was included because Allen was an avid fan of the puzzles and the equation was a tiny extract from his PhD thesis in mathematics.

Parish Clerk Suzi Pollard is quoted in the Chester Chronicle as saying in a letter to Mr Robinson’s widow (in which Mr Robinson is mistakenly called Mr Allen, adding to the family's frustration): “The councillors understand that this is a sensitive and upsetting issue, however, they must ensure that the standards of the burial ground are kept high for the benefit of all; please make immediate arrangements with the stone mason to comply with the guidelines.”

Dawn Murray says: "If that stone has to come out, which we hope it doesn't, we would replace it for Mrs Robinson at no extra cost. I just want it to sorted for the customer's sake – she's grieving for her husband!"

You can see the Chester Chronicle story and a picture of the memorial by clicking here.

And if you think that is bad…

In America, an Iraq war veteran’s SpongeBob SquarePants headstone has been removed from her grave because Cincinnati cemetery officials deemed the memorial inappropriate for its cemetery, according to a story that reaches NSS via the Irish Examiner.

The SpongeBob headstone commemorated Kimberly Walker, 28. Apparently it was her favourite cartoon character. It was erected at Spring Grove Cemetery on 10 October, almost eight months after Kimberley was found dead in a Colorado hotel room.

Despite getting the cemetery’s approval of the headstone design, Kimberley's family said cemetery staff called them the day after it was erected to say it would have to come down.

The 2.1m headstone, along with a duplicate erected for Kimberley’s still living twin sister, have been removed and will not be allowed back up.

You can read about that and watch a video by clicking here.


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