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Alphabetical Index of all judgments on this web site as at 1 October 2022

Index by Dioceses of 2022 judgments on this web site as at 1 October 2022



In 1999 the petitioner reserved a grave in the cemetery next to the grave of his late sister. He was given a deed recording the reservation. In 2016 he discovered that someone had been buried in the grave he had reserved. He complained to the burial authority, who said the register had been amended to record a different grave number. The Chancellor was satisfied that the petitioner had not agreed to a change of reserved grave. The petitioner, first directly and then through solicitors, failed to persuade the burial authority to arrange an exhumation and reinterment in another grave. He therefore applied for a faculty. Whilst accepting that there had been an administrative mistake by the burial authority, the Chancellor decided not to grant a faculty, because of "the possibility of real consequences" for the family of the person buried in the grave and the alternative possibilities for the petitioner to be buried in another nearby grave, or in the same grave as his sister, or "the prospect of exhuming [his sister's] remains so that they could be reburied in a plot with space to the side".

The petitioner, of Polish origin, wished to exhume her mother's ashes from the cemetery in Spalding and have them taken to Poland and interred in the grave of her father in a Polish cemetery. The petitioner was planning to return to Poland permanently and had no relatives left in England. All her late relatives' graves were in Poland. The Chancellor decided that special circumstances existed for exhumation to be permitted and he therefore granted a faculty.

Before her father's death in 2015, the petitioner had found the task of looking after her parents too great. They both needed constant care. Her father was frail and her mother suffered from dementia. The couple, who had been married for 70 years, were both moved to a care home. When her father died shortly afterwards, the petitioner, in distress and haste, had his ashes interred in plot 734 in the cemetery, which was a family grave of his wife's relatives. Afterwards, the petitioner felt she had made the wrong decision and she purchased plot 1425 close by, with a view to it becoming a family grave for the remains of both of her parents when her mother died. Her mother died in 2020, but her ashes had not yet been interred in plot 1425. There was in fact no further room in plot 734 for her ashes to be interred there. The Chancellor decided that the circumstances were such as to justify the grant of a faculty to allow the exhumation of the petitioner's father's ashes and their reinterment in plot 1425 with his wife's ashes.

The Chancellor declined to grant a faculty to permit the exhumation of the petitioner's grandfather's cremated remains from the churchyard at Orford and reinterment in the grave of his wife in Warrington Cemetry. No sufficient exceptional circumstances had been shown: the petitioner's grandfather had died 18 months after his wife had been buried in the cemetery and the family (who said that they had mistakenly thought that his remains could not be buried in the same grave as his wife, who had been a Roman Catholic) had decided to have his remains buried in Orford churchyard; a long period of time (21 years) had elapsed since his death; and there was no support for the exhumation from the parish.

The petitioner wished to exhume his wife's remains from a grave (intended as a double grave for his wife and himself) in an area which was regularly waterlogged in winter, and to reinter the remains in another part of the same churchyard. The Chancellor decided that there were exceptional circumstances to justify the grant of a faculty for exhumation and reinterment.

The parish priest applied for a restoration order following the interment in the churchyard without permission of a portion of the cremated remains of the novelist Tom Sharpe, together with various other items. The Chancellor granted a restoration order.

The petitioner was 18 when her brother committed suicide in 1988. At that time the Roman Catholic Church, of which the family were members, would not perform the burial, and so the deceased was buried in the churchyard of the Anglican church in Cherry Hinton. The petitioner was so aggrieved, emotionally and psychologically, by her brother's death that she had never been able to visit his grave, though her mother had visited it. Following her mother's death, the petitioner did not wish her mother to be buried in Cherry Hinton, but wished to have her buried in a cemetery in a triple-depth grave where the exhumed remains of her brother could be reinterred by a Roman Catholic priest, who was willing to perform the reinterment, and where the petitioner could be buried in due course. For the reasons stated in his judgment, the Chancellor was satisfied that there were special circumstances which constituted a good and proper reason for making an exception to the norm that Christian burial is final, and he therefore granted a faculty

The body of a woman was buried in the grave of her brother. The brother's widow and son were not consulted by the woman's sons or the funeral director or the parish priest. Upon discovering what had happened, the son applied for a faculty for exhumation, as he felt that he and his mother should have been consulted and he would have objected to the interment in his father's grave, had he known about it. The Chancellor took the view that the woman's sons had kept quiet about the existence of the son and widow, in order to have their mother buried in an existing grave in Cubley, where she did not have a legal right to be buried. However, the Chancellor refused to grant a faculty for exhumation. Although it was regrettable that the petitioner and his mother had not been consulted, the petitioner had "not established any basis sufficient in law based on any property right analogous to a reservation, or otherwise, to support his petition for exhumation".

The petitioners' daughter had died in 1980 and her ashes had been buried in the churchyard at Ham. The Petitioners had subsequently made their permanent home in Tasmania, but they had purchased the right to be buried in due time in a plot in Kingston General Cemetery. The petitioners wished, on the occasion of the first of them to die, to have their ashes interred in the reserved grave in the cemetery and to have their daughter's ashes exhumed from the churchyard and interred in the same grave. The Chancellor granted a faculty.

The petitioner's late father had been buried in grave C17 in the churchyard. There had been an understanding by the petitioner that his mother would be buried in grave C18, next to her husband, and the petitioner had applied to reserve grave C19. The petitioner discovered that someone else had been buried in grave C18. He therefore applied for his father's remains to be exhumed and reinterred in the row behind row C, row D, so that the petitioner and his parents would in due time all be buried next to each other. On the recommendation of the gravedigger, the Chancellor granted a faculty authorising a trench to be dug from the petitioner's father's grave to the grave space behind, so that the coffin could then be slid into the new position in row D. The Chancellor emphasised the importance of an up to date and accurate churchyard plan being kept in the church.