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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 Chancellor granted a faculty to allow cremated remains to be temporarily removed from a grave, in order to allow a further coffin burial, noting that the principle of exceptionality in Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002] Fam. 299 "makes clear that the principle of family solidarity is to be encouraged; as is economy in the use of grave space".

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.

In 1995, the remains of the petitioner's late mother's stillborn child were interred in the consecrated children's section of West Norwood Cemetery. In 2022/2023, the petitioner's mother was terminally ill. It was not possible for her remains to be interred with those of her stillborn daughter. She therefore reserved a double depth plot in unconsecrated land at Mitcham Road Cemetery, Croydon, for herself and her husband (both Roman Catholics) and an adjoining plot, hoping that her stillborn daughter's remains could be move there. The petitioner's mother died in March 2023. The Chancellor determined that there were circumstances which justified an exception to the norm of permanence of burial, namely, ignorance of the fact of consecration and the creation of a family grave. He therefore 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.

edging stones, and it had been anticipated that the deceased's cremated remains would be interred in the family grave, but they were in fact interred between the edging stones and the adjacent path. An application was made a few days after the interment for exhumation of the casket containing the deceased's ashes and reinterment within the family grave. The Chancellor decided that an error or misunderstanding had occurred, which, combined with the prompt request for rectification, amounted to an exceptional circumstance which would justify the grant of a faculty for exhumation and reinterment as requested.

The petitioner's late husband was buried in the cemetery in 1961. The petitioner wished to have her husband's coffin exhumed, the grave dug deeper and the coffin reinterred in the grave, so that in due course the Petitioner could be buried with her husband. The Chancellor decided that the deepening of the grave to create a family grave was an appropriate reason for granting a faculty.

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