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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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The petitioners applied for a faculty to authorise the exhumation of their father's ashes and reinterment in the plot containing the ashes of their mother. The father had died in 2006. His ashes had been buried in the cemetery and a memorial placed over the plot. Space was left for the name of the mother on the memorial. When the mother died in 2017, it was discovered that the father's ashes had been buried only two feet deep, so it was not possible to inter a further casket of ashes in the same plot. The petitioners therefore had their mother's ashes buried at double depth in a nearby plot and applied for a faculty to move their father's ashes to the same plot. The Chancellor decided that this was a case where he could exercise his discretion in allowing exhumation and reinterment, on the basis that the burial authority had made a mistake by failing to make it clear that a further burial in the first plot would not be possible.

The peitioner wished to have the body of her husband exhumed from the cemetery and reinterred in a Roman Catholic cemetery (both were Roman Catholics). She claimed that there had been a mistake in the burial, as the plot was unsuitable, being close to the edge of a five foot drop and it would not support a memorial. The Chancellor stated that this was not a case of 'mistake', so as to justify the grant of a faculty, but he nevertheless granted a faculty for exhumation on the basis of the petitioner not having been made aware of the significance of consecration in accordance with the rites of the Church of England.

Upon consideration of the principles laid down in Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002], the Acting Chancellor granted a faculty to permit the exhumation of the remains of the petitioners' mother from Hickling Cemetery, in order that the remains might be interred with the remains of the petitioners' father in Whatton-in-the-Vale churchyard: "The combination of the initial mistake as to whether the burial took place in consecrated ground, the intention to re-inter together in a family grave and the unanimous family wishes together create sufficient good and proper reasons for this exceptional order to be made."

The petitioner wished to move the cremated remains of her mother and her brother from one cemetery to another. The Chancellor could identify no exceptional circumstances which could enable him properly to exercise my discretion to grant the Petition and therefore refused it.

The petitioner sought permission to exhume the remains of her child (who had died, aged five, from a brain tumour), in order to have the remains cremated. She then wished to keep the cremated remains at home. The funeral had involved a humanist ceremony, but the remains had been buried in a consecrated part of the cemetery. The child's parents were unaware that the grave was in consecrated ground. The petitioner had subsequently regretted the interment and had found the situation difficult to come to terms with. The Chancellor found that there were exceptional circumstances to justify the grant of a faculty. The judgment contains a discussion as to whether Articles 8 and 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights applied to this case.

After considering the principles in Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002] Fam 299, the Chancellor found special reasons why he should permit the exhumation of the remains of a young person of Chinese descent and reinterment in another section of the cemetery where all other members of her family and members of the local Chinese community were buried or had reserved graves.

The petitioner's father's cremated remains were interred in Epperstone churchyard in Nottinghamshire in 2004. After he died, the petitioner moved to Bradford-on-Avon. In 2013 the petitioner's mother moved to a nursing home in Bradford-on-Avon and she died in 2018. The petitioner wished to have her father's ashes exhumed from Epperstone churchyard and interred with her mother's ashes in Bradford-on-Avon, because it would be inconvenient for the petitioner to travel regularly between Bradford-on-Avon and Nottinghamshire to visit her father's grave. The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty, as inconvenience did not amount to an exceptional reason for departing from the general principle that Christian burial is to be seen as permanent.

The Petitioner applied for a faculty to exhume her father's ashes and reinter them in a different part of the churchyard. The undertaker's gravedigger had dug the existing grave too close to the footpath for the proposed memorial, so that there would have been a danger of the grave and memorial being trodden on by members of the public. This was causing distress to the petitioner's mother. The Chancellor authorised the exhumation and reinterment.

The petitioner wished to exhume from the churchyard the cremated remains of his father and to have the remains reinterred in a cemetery with the remains of his mother, who had subsequently died. Applying the principles in Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002] Fam 299, the Chancellor found no special circumstances to justify the grant of a faculty for exhumation.

Iris Dean ("the Deceased"), before her death in 2010, expressed a wish to have her ashes interred in grave A12 in Blackley Cemetery, where her parents, brother and sister were interred. When she died, her husband, who did not wish to be buried in the same grave as his in-laws, purchased grave A136, and had the Deceased ashes interred in it, with a view to his own ashes being interred there in due time. Before he died in 2020, the deceased decided that he did not wish to be cremated, but to be buried with his parents in a churchyard at Droylsden, where his ashes were in fact subsequently interred. The Deceased's daughter now applied for a faculty to exhume her mother's ashes from grave A136 and reinter them in the family grave, A12. The Chancellor determined to treat this as a case of mistake in not burying the Deceased in accordance with her wishes and that it would be unconscionable not to allow the Deceased's ashes to be buried in her chosen final resting place, the family grave.