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

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The Court refused to grant leave to appeal in respect of the judgment of the Chancellor of the Diocese of Chester, dated 4 August 2015, when the Chancellor refused to grant a faculty giving the petitioner the right to have her ashes interred in the grave of her late partner, the wife and two daughters of the deceased partner having objected to the grant of a faculty.

The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty giving the petitioner the right to have her ashes interred in the grave of the late partner she had been living with for 2-3 years. The wife and two daughters of the deceased partner had objected.

The petitioner, a parishioner, whose parents and grandparents were buried in the churchyard, wished to reserve a grave space for herself and her partner. The Parochial Church Council, a few days before the date of the petition, had, without giving notice to parishioners, decided to adopt a policy of no grave reservations, even though there was said to be enough room in the churchyard for burials for the next 50 years. The Chancellor was satisfied that the petitioner had made a good case for the reservation of a grave and granted a faculty.

Three siblings, who had moved away from the parish, applied for a faculty to reserve two grave spaces next to their mother's grave. At a meeting of seven members of the Parochial Church Council ("PCC"), when a vote on the request for reservations was taken, two couples voted against the proposal on various grounds, including that there were spaces left for only 10 years of burials; the applicants never attended the church or contributed to it;  and the PCC had a 'first-come-first-served' policy. The Chancellor was satisfied that the PCC had never passed a resolution for such a policy. He also said that the family's contributions to the life of the local community should be considered as of equal weight to any financial contributions which they could have, but did not in fact, make to the Church. The Chancellor granted a faculty.

The petitioners wished to reserve a grave in the churchyard of Hulme Walfield. They did not live in the parish. In Schedule 2 of the petition it was indicated that the incumbent and Churchwardens did not consent to the reservation. The Chancellor declined to grant a faculty on the basis that a burial of a non-parishioner could only take place with the consent of the incumbent, who should have regard to any general guidance given by the PCC (s 6(2) of the Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure 1976). So to grant a faculty would be to subvert the purpose of Section 6(2) of the 1976 measure, since the reservation of a grave by faculty would override the minister’s power to give or withhold consent to the eventual burial of non-parishioners.

A Faculty was refused for the reservation of a grave space, as there were few empty graves left in the churchyard.

During the parish priest's absence, whilst attending a course, a burial took place in the closed churchyard. Prior to his absence, the priest had told the funeral director and the family that a burial could not take place, unless in accordance with one of the exceptions in the Order in Council closing the churchyard for burials, namely: (1) where a grave had been reserved by faculty; (2) where a person could be buried in the same grave as a relative. (Also, cremated remains can be buried in a closed churchyard.) The funeral director arranged for the deceased to be buried next to the deceased's brother in a tight space between two graves. The Chancellor determined that the interment was unlawful, and could not be made lawful retrospectively by the Ministry of Justice or the court, but he decided that no action should be taken to disturb the burial or to refer the matter for police investigation.

The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty for the reservation of a double grave, as there were very few empty grave spaces left in the churchyard.

The petitioners wished to reserve a grave in the churchyard next to the grave of their son. Two parishioners objected: one, on the grounds that the churchyards regulations did not allow a grave reservation; and the other, on the grounds that the reservation would create a gap in a row of graves. The Chancellor granted a faculty. The first objector had misunderstood the purpose of the churchyard regulations, which did not prohibit a grave reservation, and, as regards the second objection, there would be only a modest effect on the appearance of the churchyard. The petitioners (who were in their 60s) were parishioners and entitled to be buried in the churchyard; there was sufficient room for burials for approximately thirty years; and there was a good reason for the petitioners wishing to be buried next to their son.

The petitioner wished to reserve a grave space in the churchyard for himself and his wife. They lived in the parish and had relatives buried in the churchyard, including their daughter, who had died in a road traffic accident at the age of 26. The Parochial Church Council did not support the application, as it had exercised a policy for some time of not supporting grave reservations. It was estimated that the churchyard would be full in 18 years' time. The Chancellor decided that there were exceptional circumstances justifying the grant of a faculty.