A FAMILY is distraught after they told a decorative railing put around a grave breaks cemetery rules - and must come down.

Donna Wiggins, 55, her daughters Nicole Tilley, 34, Jade Tilley, 26, and daughter-in-law Sara Woodcraft, 31, paid £800 for a black ornamental fence to go around the edge of their grandparents’ grave.

However, they were horrified when at the end of August, they found a note on the grave telling them the railings, artificial rose and decorative stones breached the rules of St Katherine’s churchyard, in Long Road, Canvey and needed to be removed.

Donna of Canvey, said: “I put the fence up because I don’t want people to walk over their grave.

“The church is saying that it is a trip hazard - but there are other graves which it would be much easier to trip over. We should be able to grieve in the way we want.

“We should have been given rules when we bought the headstone but we weren’t aware that we couldn’t have the railings.”

They have been given until Saturday to remove the railings or have been told it will be taken down.

Jade added: “The council is saying that they won’t be able to maintain the grave because of the railings.

“There are other graves which haven’t been well looked after and we are more than happy to keep this one looking nice.”

Sara said: “It is disgusting that they have done this.”

The family pointed out that other graves were less well maintained at the graveyard and also had stone borders to them, some of which are quite high.

Nicola added: “It isn’t about the money that was spent on the railings at all.

“There was just a note attached to the railings which I think is rather rude.

“What would happen if it had blown off or we have been on holiday and hadn’t noticed it?”

The Rev David Tudor, who is responsible for the church yard, said it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment on individual cases, but the rules were there for a reason.

He said: “You cannot just put up any monument or decoration, families need to ask for permission first.

“It is to stop people going too mad and to prevent fashions. “What makes sense in the Sixties does not make sense in the Nineties and churches will be around for a long time.”