A church in County Durham has apologised for the "considerable negativity" caused by a series of photos taken at a beer festival hosted in their parish graveyard.
Images showed revellers at this weekend's Norton Beer Festival sitting on headstones and turning graves into makeshift pub tables.
Locals expressed their outrage on a community Facebook page. "I’d never sit on graves," one wrote. “I was always brought up to be respectful in a graveyard."
St Mary the Virgin church in Norton Village responded to the controversy with a statement on Facebook.
"Over the last few days our doors were open once again to members of our local community, young and old, who came to enjoy our Beer Festival, support local business and spend time with friends old and new," said parish priest Rev Michael Anderson. "Through this we were also able to generate funds to help to maintain our beautiful building, as well as to offer a space for friendship and community."
Rev Anderson added:
"Unfortunately, photographs shared on social media have created considerable negativity, and I am deeply sorry for that.
"I am saddened that this event, which we'd hoped would bring joy and positivity in our community, has caused so much upset, and apologise to everyone who has expressed their concern."
David Dodd, the manager of the Three Brothers Brewery, who supplied the drinks, told The Times that event staff did not place any seating around the graves.
"At no point were chairs put around gravestones by staff and it was certainly not recommended for people to sit on them," Dodd explained.
"For future events there will be signage and taping off sections to make this clearer. We will also have even more chairs available outside to give people an alternative.”