A spokesman for the Health and Safety Executive said: "It seems the 'health and safety' regulations referred to in the media coverage today are in fact a local interpretation of the Church of England's own Churchyard Regulations.
"In this case, as in many other similar cases, the diocese rules are probably based on an overinterpretation of health and safety regulations.
"Churchyard Regulations are decided by the diocese advisory board, with each diocese creating its own local interpretation of the regulations, and as such are not reflective of existing British health and safety legislation.
"There is nothing in health and safety law that would prevent people from placing pots or vases on the resting place of their loved ones. However, as the ownership and upkeep of the grounds falls to the Church, the Church is at liberty to make whatever decisions it feels appropriate in which to maintain its graveyard."