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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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A faculty was sought to permit the exhumation of the remains of a husband, in order that they might be interred with the remains of his wife in another grave in the same cemetery. His wife had expressed a wish in her will to be buried with her husband, but her husband's remains had been interred in a family grave where there had previously been three

It had been the wish of George Nicholson to be buried in the grave of his father, who had died in 1945 and was buried in the War Graves section of Benton Cemetery. When George Nicholson died in 2018, his ashes were placed in the grave marked by his father's memorial. In 2019, when George Nicholson's sister died, and it was proposed to inter her ashes in her father's grave, it was discovered that in 2006 the Commonwealth War Graves Commission had removed the memorial of George Nicholson's father and also the adjacent memorial for restoration work and the two memorials had been replaced the wrong way round, so that George Nicholson's ashes had been placed in the grave next to his father's. The burial authority applied for a faculty to rectify the mistake by the exhumation of George Nicholson's ashes from the neighbouring grave, so that they could be interred in his father's grave. The Deputy Chancellor determined that there were exceptional circumstances to justify the grant of a faculty for exhumation and reinterment.

Faculty refused for the exhumation from a cemetery of the cremated remains of a child buried in 1960, and reinterment in the churchyard of a parish to which the parents had moved. The Chancellor took into account the time since the interment, and also did not accept the Petitioner's argument that the deterioration in the care of the cemetery justified him in making an exception to the presumption against exhumation.

The petitioner wished to exhume the remains of her baby daughter (who died in 1948) and of her husband (who died in 1989) from Bingham Cemetery, a few miles from her home in the nearby village of Gamston. At the time of the interments, Bingham was the place where people from Gamston were normally interred. The petitioner and her daughter and son-in-law had purchased two plots in Wilford Hill Cemetery, about one mile away from Gamston.  The intention was that the petitioner’s daughter and son-in-law should in due course be buried in one of the plots at Wilford Hill and that the petitioner’s husband’s and infant daughter’s remains should be transferred to the other grave, in which the petitioner would eventually be buried. The Chancellor considered that there were no exceptional circumstances to justify the exhumations, and he accordingly refused to grant a faculty. This was not a case of a desire for remains to be moved to a family grave, but to exhume from a family grave, in which it was possible for the petitioner’s remains to be interred in due course.

This was an appeal from a decision of the Chancellor of the Diocese of Bath & Wells, who refused to grant a faculty for the exhumation of the remains of Steven Whittle from Blagdon Cemetery, Somerset, with a view to their re-interment in Stowmarket Cemetery, Suffolk. The deceased's parents had difficulty in travelling from Suffolk to Somerset to visit their son's grave, and wished for his remains to be moved near to their permanent home and placed in a family grave. The judgment discusses the theology of burial and sets out various factors which should be considered before a decision is made as to whether an exception should be allowed from the general presumption of permanence arising from the initial act of interment in consecrated ground. The Court directed that a faculty should be granted by the Consistory Court. The Court made its decision on a number of grounds, one being that the remains were to be reinterred in a family grave in Stowmarket.

The petitioners wished to have the cremated remains of their father exhumed from Bourne Abbey and reinterred in a cemetery in Harlow, where their mother's cremated remains had been interred following her recent death. Upon consideration of the guidelines laid down in the Court of Arches decision in Re Blagdon Cemetery 2002 Fam 299, the Chancellor determined that this was a case where an exception could be made to the presumption that burial should be treated as final, as the remains of the petitioners' father would be reinterred in a family grave.

A faculty was granted for exhumation of a body from one part of a cemetery, where it had been interred contrary to the wishes of the deceased's wife, and reinterment near other family graves in the same cemetery. The Chancellor found that there had been "an error in administration", which justified him in granting a faculty.

The petitioner wished to have her mother's cremated remains exhumed from Bromsgrove Cemetery and scattered elsewhere with the cremated remains of the petitioner's father. The petition was unopposed, but the petitioner requested a hearing. Since the interment of the petitioner's mother's ashes, her father had always regretted acting in haste upon his wife's death and had wished that his and his wife's ashes could have been scattered together, especially as his wife had not wished to be buried in consecrated ground, neither having religious beliefs. The Chancellor granted a faculty. The petitioner's father had made a mistake as to wishes of his wife with respect to her burial. The Chancellor was satisfied that no precedent would be set by his decision. In fact a previous judgment on the same basis had already been made in respect of the same cemetery.

The petitioner wished to move her mother's cremated remains from Calverley churchyard to Otley Cemetery. The Chancellor could find no special circumstances to enable him to grant a faculty.

The Petitioner and his wife, having moved from Castle Bytham to Grantham, wished to exhume the cremated remains of their late son and re-inter them in Grantham Cemetery. The grounds for making the application were: (1) the petitioner and his wife, due to their age and frailty, were unable to visit the grave at Castle Bytham; and (2) the Petitioner and his wife had purchased a grave at Grantham Cemetery with the intention that their son's remains should be placed their and their own cremated remains would be placed in the same grave in due course. The Chancellor stated that, following the principles laid down in Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002], he could not grant a faculty on the first ground, but he granted a faculty on the second ground, because a family grave had been established.