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Exhumations

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The cremated remains of the petitioner's parents were both buried in separate plots in the cemetery, her mother having died in 2006 and her father in 2015. Her mother's remains had been buried in the grave of her grandmother and her sister. The owner of the grave in which the petitioner's mother's remains were interred (the daughter of the sister) refused to allow the remains of the petitioner's father to be buried in the same plot as his wife, even though the he had expressed in his will a desire to be buried with his wife. The petitioner therefore sought to exhume the remains of her mother and have them reinterred in the grave of her father. Having considered the guidelines in Re Blagdon, as to the circumstance in which exhumation may be allowed (which the Chancellor regarded as non-exclusive), he determined that there were sufficient exceptional circumstances to justify the grant of a faculty to authorise the exhumation and reinterment.

A body had been interred in a grave reserved for someone else. The family which had reserved the grave applied for a faculty for exhumation of the body wrongly placed in the reserved grave. One of the two people for whom the grave was reserved was terminally ill. The Chancellor granted the faculty on the basis that there had been a genuine administrative error, which led to the interment in the grave already reserved.

The petitioners wished to exhume the cremated remains of their son and scatter them on a beach in South Wales. The Chancellor could find no special reason to justify the grant of a faculty.

A faculty was granted for exhumation of the remains of a stillborn child from Wandsworth Cemetery and re-interment in Winchester, where the parents now live. Per Petchey Ch.: "I will grant this petition because of the fact that Mr. and Mrs. Rees did not have a permanent home in Wandsworth at the time of the burial of their stillborn son and because of the tragic circumstances of that stillbirth, with which Mrs. Rees is still trying to come to terms. These reasons represent circumstances which make it appropriate to make an exception to the norm of Christian burial."

In 1987 the petitioner had reserved for herself a cremation plot in the cemetery immediately next to the plot in which were interred the cremated remains of her parents. In 2016 she noticed that an interment had taken place in the plot which she had reserved. This situation had come about because in 2015 the burial authority had by mistake granted an exclusive right of burial in the same plot to someone else. The petitioner therefore applied for a faculty for exhumation of the cremated remains interred in the plot she had reserved in 1987. The Chancellor determined that this was an appropriate case in which a faculty should be granted, owing to the administrative error which had occurred.

The petitioner wished to exhume the remains of her daughter from a grave at West Hoe Cemetery, Bishop's Waltham, Hampshire, and reinter the remains in Fremington Cemetery in Devon. The child had died in 1988 from sudden death syndrome at the age of 14 weeks. In 2002 the petitioner had moved to live in Devon, where another of her children died from cancer in 2019 and was buried in Fremington Cemetery, since when graves had been purchased either side of the one where the daughter was buried, with a view to creating a block of graves for the burial of the petitioner and other family members in due course. The Chancellor noted that the family was now settled in Devon and that the Court of Arches in Re Blagdon recognised and encouraged the concept of family graves. He therefore granted a faculty for the proposed exhumation and reinterment.

A faculty was granted for exhumation and re-interment in the same grave at a lower level, in order to provide room for further interments.

The petitioner's father died in 1985 and his body was interred in West Norwood Cemetery. The petitioner's mother originally intended to be buried next to her husband. The petitioner's mother died in 2014. Before she died, she expressed to the petitioner a wish to be buried in a family grave in Ireland and to have her husband's body exhumed, cremated and buried with her in the family grave. Considering the the guidelines set out in the judgment in Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002] Fam 299, the Chancellor determined that reinterment in a family grave, and the consequent release of two grave spaces in South London, where burial space was at a premium, would allow him to treat this application as an exception to the general policy against exhumation, and he according granted a faculty.

The petitioner sought a faculty for the exhumation of the remains of the person buried in plot C71 in Wetheral Cemetery ("the deceased"), as the petitioner had purchased plot C71 many years earlier, next to plots reserved for members of her family. There were two pairs of family plots either side of a path. The deceased had reserved plot C77, but unfortunately at the time of his burial, the burial authority's record reading C77 was misread as C71. The deceased's family strongly objected to the exhumation. The burial authority accepted that they had made a mistake and offered the petitioner a choice of plots next to the remaining three family plots. The Deputy Chancellor determined not to grant a faculty. He considered the views of the deceased's family as significant, that the delay in petitioning was also a factor, and he also attached weight to the offer by the burial authority of alternative plots next to the other family plots.

Faculty for exhumation refused. Moving remains nearer to where the family lives not an exceptional circumstance to justify the grant of a Faculty.