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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 wished to have her late husband's cremated remains exhumed and reinterred in Scotland, on a property that the deceased had acquired in 1962. Four relatives and a friend of the deceased objected. They contended that the petitioner did not like them putting floral tributes and cards on the grave and had been observed removing flowers and cards, and that the petitioner's motive for moving the remains to Scotland was to put them where the objectors would find it difficult to put tributes on the deceased's grave. The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty for exhumation and reinterment and urged restraint on both sides, advising the objectors not to put cards on the grave and expressing the hope that the petitioner would not to remove flowers placed by the objectors.

The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty for exhumation. The petitioner wished to exhume the cremated remains of his daughter (who had died in 2007 aged 45) from Northolt churchyard and have the ashes scattered at Breakspear Crematorium. Applying the guidance given in the 2001 decision of the Court of Arches in Re Blagdon Cemetery, the Chancellor did not consider that the reasons given by the petitioner for exhumation - that the petitioner's daughter's grave was neglected, and that the family had moved to near the Breakspear Crematorium, where the petitioner and his wife intended to have their own ashes scattered in due course - were not sufficiently exceptional as to justify a departure from the general rule that permanence of burial in consecrated ground should be regarded as the norm. Also, if exhumation were allowed, the ashes would not be reinterred in consecrated ground.

The Chancellor granted a faculty to permit the opening of a grave and the opening of a casket, in order to permit the petitioners' mother's wedding ring to be placed with the ashes of the petitioners' parents, which had been interred six weeks previously.

The cremated remains of a member of the family concerned in this matter had recently been interred in her parents' grave. The interment had been arranged by certain members of the family, who did not discuss the location of the interment with other members of the family, who, as it turned out, objected to the last deceased being interred in her parents' grave, and they applied for a faculty for exhumation. The Chancellor ruled that the interment should not have taken place in the parents' grave without the agreement of all of the next of kin, and accordingly granted a faculty for exhumation and reinterment elsewhere.

The petitioner was a world-renowned influenza virologist with a particular interest in the 1918 Spanish Influenza strain, a type of avian influenza. In view of the concern in 2007 regarding the avian H5N1 virus, the petitioner wished to exhume the body of Sir Mark Sykes, who had died from Spanish Influenza in Paris in 1919. Samples from previous victims of the 1918 disease had been of insufficient quality for the petitioner's current research to try to ascertain how the 1918 virus spread in the body, which might help in research to find better clinical treatment for avian viruses. The fact that Sir Mark had been buried at Sledmere in a sealed lead coffin raised the likelihood of better samples being found for the petitioner's research. The Chancellor granted a faculty. The prospect of finding a way of combatting the H5N1 virus would be of public benefit and was a sufficiently exceptional reason to displace the normal presumption against exhumation. 

The petitioner wished to exhume the cremated remains of her mother and reinter them in the same churchyard with the remains of her father. It had been intended that the plot into which the petitioner's mother's remains had been interred should have been a double grave, but when the petitioner's father died it was found to be impossible to add the father's remains to the grave, due to insufficient depth. Also, the grave could not be enlarged due to concrete obstructions. Therefore the petitioner's father's remains had to be put in a nearby grave. The Chancellor considered that a mistake had been made, in that those digging the mother's grave should have been aware that a double plot was required and that the plot itself was not suitable for a double interment. He therefore granted a faculty of the exhumation of the mother's remains and their reinterment in the grave of her husband.

Faculty for exhumation granted, due to exceptional circumstances (following guidance in Re Blagdon), namely, medical reasons.

In 2000 the petitioner's mother died and, in accordance with a wish expressed in her will, her body was interred in a double-depth grave in Stoneleigh churchyard. In 2021 the petitioner's mother's partner died and his body was interred, in accordance with a wish in his own will, in the same grave. The petitioner now applied for her mother's partner's body to be exhumed and reinterred elsewhere, so that the petitioner could be buried in the same grave as her mother in due course. The reason given for the proposal by the petitioner (but without supporting evidence) was that by 2000 the relationship between her mother and her mother's partner had ‘just about ceased’ and there had been an understanding that the petitioner would be buried with her mother. The Chancellor determined that there had been nothing unlawful in the burial of the partner and the petitioner had shown no exceptional circumstances to justify an exhumation.

Faculty granted for the exhumation of cremated remains and their reinterment in a family grave in the nearby cemetery, even though the remains had not been interred in a casket, but poured into a hole in the ground.

The petitioner's father had been buried in the churchyard in 1982. In 1983, the petitioner's mother obtained a faculty reserving the grave next to her husband, as the stony nature of the ground had not permitted the digging of a double depth grave for the two of them. When the petitioner's mother died in 2015, it was found that another burial had encroached on the reserved grave, so that it was not possible for the petitioner's mother to be buried in the grave she had reserved. Her body was buried in a nearby grave. The petitioner, after some delay, applied for a faculty to authorise the exhumation of his father's body and for it to be reinterred in a grave next to that of the petitioner's mother. The Chancellor was satisfied that a mistake had been made and, notwithstanding the delay by the petitioner in presenting a petition, the Chancellor granted a faculty for the exhumation and reinterment