RELATIVES whose loved ones are buried in a Malvern cemetery are furious after being ordered to remove edging stones and excess flowers from their graves.

They have called the Worcester Diocese insensitive after arriving at St Matthias' graveyard to find letters warning them to remove the edgings and flowers or have them removed.

The diocese had, they claim, already removed edgings from around graves in the past without first informing families.

June Pilcher, who son Craig died from meningitis at the age of 16, said: "My son has been buried there for ten years and now we have to take the stones up.

"A couple of graves were desecrated, they started taking stones up at the edgings. We all thought it was vandals but it was church volunteers. There have been plants taken as well. I want to be able to go down and put flowers there. It's just not on."

The letter, in the name of three representatives of the church, gives "notice that we are making application to the Consistory Court of Diocese for permission to carry out the... removal of unauthorised edging".

However, Ms Pilcher said the edgings were not unauthorised.

"We were given permission by Canon John Davis (previously rector of the church) but not in writing," she said. "As far as I'm aware, you own the plot for 100 years. It's the only place that we as a family have got to go. It's his garden as far as I'm concerned."

Brenda Burston's also found a letter on husband Tony's grave.

"To leave those letters on the grave and not post them, it's horrible," she said. "It's not hurting anyone is it? If you have paid all the money, you own that plot and they shouldn't touch it. They're not scruffy, if they were untidy I could understand, but it's as bad as vandalism."

Nicola Currie, press officer for Worcester Diocese, said that the churchyard belonged to St Mathias' Church and that there were certain regulations that should be adhered to.

"What sometimes happens is that later on things are added to the graves and the church doesn't have records of addresses, so in that case a letter is the only way of contacting the relatives," she said.

"That is standard throughout the Church of England as we're trying to preserve the surroundings. Certain things are not recommended because the church is preserving the heritage of the place."

l June Pilcher by her son's grave with the letter left by the headstone. 43463015