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Alphabetical Index of all judgments on this web site as at 4 June 2020

Index by Dioceses of all judgments on this web site, as at 4 June 2020



In December 2015 the Chancellor granted a Faculty reserving a gravespace for the petitioners, who were not residents in the parish. The Chancellor placed a limit of 12 years on the reservation, as it was expected that the churchyard would be full within 12 years, and the Chancellor did not wish to prejudice the rights of burial of parishioners and others with a

The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty for the reservation of a grave space for the petitioner's mother (not a parishioner), there being only four or five empty grave spaces left in the churchyard.

In 1997 the deceased had requested the reservation of the grave at the foot of the grave of her late husband. Owing to an administrative mistake the wrong plot number was allocated, but the deceased did not realise that the grave number was incorrect. At the funeral, the family realised that the grave for the deceased had been dug in the wrong place, but felt unable to do other than proceed with the funeral. They subsequently sought a faculty for exhumation and reinterment in the intended grave. The Chancellor was satisfied that a genuine mistake had been made, which could be regarded as an exception to the presumption of permanence of burial. He therefore granted a faculty for exhumation and reinterment, in order to correct the error.

The petitioner, who lived in Oxfordshire, wished to reserve a grave in the churchyard at Heptonstall in West Yorkshire, due to "her affection for literature and the proximity of the grave of Sylvia Plath". The priest-in-charge and Parochial Church Council had no objections to the reservation. There were in excess of 450 grave spaces available, and burials averaged five per year. After a discussion of the principles which a Chancellor should consider when deciding whether to exercise a discretion to grant a faculty to someone who had no legal right to be buried in a churchyard, the Chancellor determined that in this case there was no reason to refuse a faculty.

The petitioner applied for a faculty giving her the right to be buried in the same grave as her former partner, with whom she had lived for 25 years until his death in 1986. The family of the deceased's first partner, who died in 1957, objected to the petitioner having the right to be buried in the same grave as their father, there having been a division between the two families. The Chancellor declined to grant a faculty: "In my judgment the dispute between the parties weighs in favour of non-intervention."

In 1953 a faculty had been granted to the petitioner's grandfather to permit the erection of a memorial and the creation of a vault reserving to the petitioner's grandfather and the members of his family the right of burial in the vault. The present petitioner's grandparents and other deceased members of the family had since been buried in the vault. There were six shelves in the vault, of which four had been used. The petitioner wished to reserve the remaining two shelves for the burial of himself and his fiancee. The petitioner's cousin objected to a faculty being granted on the grounds that the reservations would prevent any further members of the family (who might predecease the petitioner and his fiancee) from being placed in the vault, and because she felt that the terms of the orginal faculty limited the right of interment to direct descendants only. The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty, but directed that (a) a person who married into the family would be eligible to be buried in the vault; (b) an interment should be treated as including the placing of cremated remains in the vault; and (c) if "space remains on any given shelf for the seemly custody of the cremated remains of more than one person then it is permissible for there to be such remains of more than one person on each shelf in the vault."

The Chancellor considered four applications for faculties to reserve graves in the churchyard. The Chancellor was concerned that there were very few grave spaces left unoccupied, and that the Parochial Church Council had already applied for closure of the churchyard in six months time, which he considered premature. After discussing the approach of other Chancellors to applications for the reservation of graves, the Chancellor decided to grant reservations in two of the present applications, where the applicants were in their 60s and 70s, they were longstanding residents, and they had strong connections with the church. But he refused the other two applications, where the applicants were in their 30s and 40s, did not live in the parish and had little connection with the church. The Chancellor did not consider that having a relative buried in the churchyard was of itself a sufficient reason to grant a faculty to reserve a grave.

The petitioner, aged 84, wished to reserve a grave in the churchyard. She did not live in the parish, but was baptised, confirmed and married at the church, and numbers of her relatives were buried in the churchyard, including her parents, grandparents and great grandparents. The Chancellor declined to grant a faculty, because there was limited grave space left; the Parochial Church Council had a policy of not supporting reservations, and they were concerned about managing a diminishing resource. However, the Chancellor felt confident that the petitioner's strong connections with the church would be properly taken into account at the time of her death.

The petitioner wished to reserve a triple-depth grave for himself, his brother and his sister. The Parochial Church Council("the PCC") was opposed to the reservation of the grave, as it had maintained a policy of not supporting the reservation of gravespaces for at least forty years. The Chancellor found that there were exceptional reasons to allow the grant of a faculty: (1) the grave would be for three family members; (2) the graveyard already contained the graves of a number of members of the petitioner’s family; (3) there were concerns (undisclosed in the judgment) which were personal to the petitioner. The Chancellor also noted that, notwithstanding the policy of the PCC, members of the PCC were sympathetic to the petitioner's request.

Eltham churchyard was closed by Order in Council. The cremated remains of the petitioner's father had been interred near the west end of the church in 1961 and the interment was marked by a memorial stone measuring 18 inches by 12 inches. In 1989, the incumbent agreed with the petitioner and her mother, that their ashes could in due time be interred next to the ashes of the petitioner's father, though there was only room for one more commemoration on the memorial. The petitioner's mother died in 2020 and her cremated remains were interred under her husband's memorial stone. The petitioner sought a faculty, (1) to secure the arrangement agreed with the incumbent in 1989, so that her own cremated remains could in due time be buried next to those of her parents, (2) to permit a further stone next to the memorial to her parents; and (3) to replace the existing stone, which had weathered badly. The Chancellor granted a faculty.