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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

Exhumations

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The petitioner wished to have the cremated remains of her husband exhumed from the churchyard at Leyland and reinterred in a family grave in the churchyard at Wrea Green containing four members of the family, which had been her husband's wish. But at the time of her husband's death, the petitioner, who had suffered from leukaemia for some time and was now in hospital, and had her husband's remains interred at Leyland, whilst she 'was in shock (he died suddenly) and therefore did not act rationally or upon his wishes'. She wished her cremated remains in due course to be buried in the family grave together with the cremated remains of her husband. The Chancellor considered that this was a case where there were exceptional circumstances to justify granting a faculty. Firstly, the reinterment would be into an existing family grave and, secondly, there had been a mistake by the petitioner in her shock and grief, in that her husband had expressed a wish to be buried in the family grave at Wrea Green, and she now wished for corrective action to be taken.

Faculty granted for exhumation of cremated remains interred by mistake in a grave already reserved by Faculty. Order for costs against the incumbent, whose error in interring the remains in a reserved grave had given rise to the proceedings.

The petitioner wished to exhume the cremated remains of her late father and reinter them elsewhere in the same churchyard in the grave of her mother, who died one year after her father. The Chancellor considered that there were special circumstances which allowed him to grant a faculty.

The petitioner wished to have the ashes of her mother exhumed and scattered over the hills north of Newtown in Powys. The ashes had been buried in the churchyard at Naunton Beauchamp, at the insistence of the petitioner's former sister-in-law. All the deceased's other children recalled their mother expressing a wish to have her ashes scattered in Wales, and they supported the petitioner's wish. Whilst accpting that this was a borderline case for allowing an exhumation as an exception to the general rule against disturbing human remains, the Chanmcellor decided to grant a faculty to the petitioner: ' ... whilst it is “generally” right that mourners should learn to let go, it appears that she will be unable to do so until her mother’s ashes have been scattered as proposed; only then, it seems to me, will she be able to recover her psychological and spiritual health.'

The petitioner had discovered that the memorial to her husband had not been laid directly over the casket containing his ashes, when she had previously been assured by a churchwarden this that was not the case. (She in fact had taken it upon herself without faculty to move the casket under the memorial.) The petitioner felt that she had been deliberately misled, and she wished to have her husband's ashes exhumed and reinterred in a local cemetery. This had given rise to a breakdown in relationships between the petitioner and the vicar and churchwardens. The petitioner claimed that every time she visited her husband's grave she felt anger and grievance towards the vicar and churchwardens. The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty for exhumation and reinterment: "The fact that the widow or widower of a person whose remains have been interred in a particular churchyard has strong feelings of anger and grievance towards the incumbent and churchwardens of the particular church cannot justify the exhumation of the remains in question."

Faculty granted for exhumation from  a husband's grave in England and reinterment in the grave of his wife in Australia. The judgment contains a discussion of the decisions in a number of "portable remains" and "family grave" cases.

The Petitioner wished to have her late husband's remains exhumed and reinterred in a churchyard nearer to where she now lived, her reason for the request being that she now found it difficult to visit her husband's grave. Applying the principles laid down by the Court of Arches in Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002] Fam 299, the Chancellor refused to grant a faculty.

Part of the cremated remains of the petitioner's late partner had been interred in the churchyard and part in a grave reserved in the cemetery by the petitioner. The petitioner applied for permission to exhume the ashes in the churchyard and reinter them in the grave in the cemetery. The petitioner's estranged daughters had been under the impression that all the ashes had been interred in the churchyard, in accordance with the deceased's wishes. One of the daughters, on discovering what had happened, petitioned to have the deceased's ashes exhumed from the cemetery and reinterred in the churchyard. The petitioner thereupon sought an amendment of his petition to preserve the status quo. The Chancellor decided that the status quo should be maintained, there being no sufficient justification for allowing either exhumation.

The petitioners' father died in 1998 and his cremated remains were interred in the southern end of the churchyard, near the grave of his grandparents. The petitioners' mother died in 2020, having made a codicil to her will, in which she expressed a desire to be buried and not cremated. She was buried in the burial area at the northern end of the churchyard. The petitioners now wished to move their father's cremated remains to the grave of their mother, in order to fulfil the hope expressed by their mother in the codicil that her husband's remains might be taken up and buried in her grave. The Chancellor did not consider that there were exceptional reasons to justify the grant of a faculty for exhumation and reinterment: "Mr Cooper is already buried close to family members and so the family grave consideration does not give rise to exceptional circumstances. "

The petitioner's late daughter had died in a road traffic in 1966, aged just 16 months. She was buried in an unmarked grave. The petitioner and his late wife had always wanted to be buried with their daughter, but the churchyard at Boultham had been closed for burials since their daughter's death, so that the petitioner's wife had been buried in Newport Cemetery in Lincoln. The petitioner wished to exhume his daughter's remains and inter them in a grave reserved near to her mother's grave. The Chancellor was not satisfied that with the passage of time it would now be possible to recover any remains of such a small child buried 53 years previously, and he declined to grant a faculty.