The Diocese of Ely has threatened to throw away sentimental ornaments from the cremation area at the parish church of St Peter and St Paul in Fenstanton after it ruled that the area had become “cluttered”.

The removed mementos, put down by mourning relatives, will be stored in the church's lobby for two weeks and, if they are not claimed, they will then be disposed of.

A newsletter on the church's website states: "Some people may find this distressing, for which we are sorry, but we know that others with loved ones buried there will welcome the move."

The policy has been in place for a number of years but the parochial church council has partly accepted blame for not insisting that the rules were followed, which has meant that "the area is spoiled for other mourners".

The church added: "The part of the churchyard devoted to burial of the ashes of departed loved ones is intended for quiet reflection and peaceful contemplation.

"Unfortunately, parts of it have become cluttered by things that the Church of England, both nationally and regionally, says are not allowed."

One bereaved mother has expressed her heartache at not being able to put ornaments at the place where her son's ashes are buried.

Tracey Burgess, of Ermine Street, in Great Stukeley, was shocked to find out that the Diocese of Ely has banned items including small statues, framed photographs and lanterns.

Mrs Burgess started putting objects there when her son, Danny, died of meningitis more than 20 years ago.

She said: "For all these years I have put small things on there with no problem at all - I used to put things on there when it was his birthday and at Christmas but now they will be put in the bin."

Mrs Burgess's auntie and uncle as well as her husband's grandparents are also buried in the church's cremation area.

"Me and my husband were born and bred in the village - we know people in the village and look after each other, if flowers had died and things were getting cluttered then people would have removed them to keep it tidy."

Items including toys and ornaments were removed earlier this month by the Revd Dr Robin McKenzie and a team designated by the parochial church council to clear the area to make way for Christmas wreaths - which are allowed and encouraged.

"Because there are no items there it looks like nobody cares - I am just upset over the whole thing," added Mrs Burgess.

"I was going to put a couple of small objects back but I was told they would get taken away again as it would get unsightly."

It has been confirmed by Ian MacKellar, secretary of Fenstanton parochial church council, that it is a Church of England policy and not specific to the Diocese of Ely.