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Alphabetical Index of all judgments on this web site as at 1 October 2022

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The petitioner's husband, a Roman Catholic, had wanted to be buried at Avonview Cemetery, where other family members were buried, but when he died in 1995 no further burials were being allowed at Avonview Cemetery. He was buried at Filton Cemetery in a grave chosen or accepted by the funeral directors. In 2018 burials were resumed at Avonview Cemetery, due to paths and previously unused land being set aside for burials. The petitioner became aware that the area of Filton Cemetery where her husband was buried was consecrated in accordance with the rites of the Church of England. She therefore wished to have his remains exhumed and reinterred at Avonview Cemetery. The Chancellor determined that there had been a mistake by the funeral directors in organising the interment in the Anglican area of Filton Cemetery, which would amount to exceptional circumstances justifying exhumation, as identified in Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002] 3 WLR 603. The funeral directors were ordered to pay the costs of the petition.

In 1978, the petitioner’s son, aged 2 years and ten months, had died and had been buried in plot 126 in Whitehaven Cemetery. In 1997, the petitioner’s former father-in-law had died and his family, without the involvement of an undertaker or the burial authority, had interred his ashes by pouring them into a shallow hole in the same plot. It had always been the wish of the petitioner to be buried with his son, but the shallow interment of his former father-in-law’s ashes now prevented this. The petitioner therefore requested permission for his father-in-law’s ashes to be exhumed and reinterred in another plot in the cemetery (Plot 563) owned by the petitioner’s former wife. The burial authority were satisfied that the ashes could be exhumed intact. The Chancellor decided that there were exceptional circumstances justifying the grant of a faculty: there had been a mistake by the petitioner’s father-in-law’s family, in that they had not appreciated the consequences of preventing further interments in plot 126. Also, it was desirable to move the ashes of the petitioner’s father-in-law to plot 563, which was a family plot where the remains of the petitioner’s former mother-in-law and her son had already been interred.

The petitioner wished to have the cremated remains of her mother, who died in 1978, exhumed from Wolseley Road Cemetery, in order that the remains might be reinterred with the cremated remains of her father (whose remains had not yet been interred) in a new cemetery at Stile Cop. Applying the principles laid down by the Court of Arches in Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002] Fam 299, the determined that this was not a case where there were special circumstances which would justify the grant of a faculty.

Cremated remains of two people had been buried in a grave already reserved for someone else. The Chancellor granted a Faculty for exhumation and reinterment in another part of the cemetery, on the ground that a genuine mistake had been made. Normally, the Chancellor would have directed that the exhumation should take place as soon as possible, but in this he acceded to the request of the petitioner, out of respect for his particular faith, that the exhumation should not take place within one year of the interment, whilst at the same time expressing the hope that an earlier date might be agreed,in order to alleviate the concerns of the person who had reserved the grave.