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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



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.

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.

The petitioners' mother had arranged in 2015 for the interment of her husband's ashes at St. Andrew Netherton, following a funeral at a nearby Roman Catholic Church. The petitioners' mother died in 2022, having previously expressed to the petitioners her wish for her cremated remains to be buried near to the graves of relatives in the cemetery at Burry Port in South Wales. She had also requested that her husband's ashes should be moved to be buried with her ashes at Burry Port. Taking all the various factors of the case together, the Chancellor determined to grant a faculty to allow the petitioners' father's ashes to be buried with the ashes of his wife next to other family members whose remains were buried in the cemetery.

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 husband from the churchyard at Ranmore in Surrey and reinter them in the churchyard at Fulbourn in Cambridgeshire. The deceased's remains had been interred in 2011, and in 2022 the petitioner had moved to live in Cambridgeshire. The petitioner was concerned that in years to come she might become physically unable to visit her husband's grave in Surrey. The Deputy Chancellor refused to grant a faculty. Following the guidance in the Court of Arches decision in re Blagdon Cemetery [2002] 4 All ER 482, moving residence was not an exceptional reason to justify a departure from the normal rule that interment in consecrated ground should be regarded as permanent.

The petitioners, who lived in Lincolnshire, wished to exhume from the churchyard of St. Bartholomew Arborfield in Oxfordshire the cremated remains of their son and only child, who died aged 6 from leukaemia in 1981. They wished to reinter his remains in a new family grave in the churchyard of All Saints North Cave in the Diocese of York, where many of his mother's relatives were already buried and where the petitioners wished their remains to be buried. The Chancellor granted a faculty. He considered that special circumstances existed which constituted good and proper reasons for making an exception to the normal rule that Christian burial was final, including (inter alia) the absence of any connection between the child and Arborfield; the petitioners having had no settled home at the time of their son's death; the intense grief of the petitioners at his death and the pressure to have his remains interred as soon as possible; and the desire to create a family grave.

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.