Display:

The petitioner wished to have the cremated remains of her father (who died in 2007) exhumed from Dean churchyard, near Bolton, and reinterred in the churchyard at Warburton with the as yet uninterred cremated remains of her mother (who died in 2018), because the petitioner's parents had started life as a married couple in Warburton, and a number of members of the family lived there. The Chancellor could find no exceptional circumstances to justify embarking from the general principle that burial should be regarded as permanent. Amongst the reasons given for his decision not to grant a faculty, the Chancellor observed that the Petitioner's mother had chosen to have her husband's remains interred at Dean and had regularly visited the grave there until her death, and he also stated that "to allow this application would be to approve a practice of regarding cremated remains as ‘portable’ and that to do so would encourage such applications, which I am not willing to do".

The petitioner applied for the exhumation of his father’s remains, in order that they might be buried in another burial ground with the remains of his mother, who died in 2017. The petitioner’s father had died 27 years previously. His widow, until her death, had frequently complained about the churchyard where her husband was buried as being overgrown. The situation was made worse by the installation 22 years previously of a gas governor site next to the grave, which became noisy and at times gave off fumes, which distressed the petitioner’s mother. Before she died, she expressed a wish that on her death her late husband’s remains should be exhumed and interred with her remains elsewhere. The Chancellor concluded reluctantly that he could find no exceptional circumstances to justify an exhumation. There had been no mistake in the place of interment of the petitioner’s father; 22 years had elapsed since the installation of the gas governor site; and a mistake of law on the part of the petitioner, that he did not realise until recently that it was possible to exhume remains, would not entitle the petition to succeed.

The petitioner wished to erect a memorial on his wife's grave. The proposed design included a design of a rose in gold, red and green. The Chancellor decided that in this particular case he would allow gold lettering and the design of the rose, provided that the rose was only coloured gold.

The petitioner wished to dis-inter the remains of his father on a temporary basis, because the vault in which his father's casket rested was flooded and could not decently be used for further interments. The proposal was to have the vault repaired and made water-tight, after which the casket would be returned to the vault. The Chancellor granted a faculty.

The Petitioner wished to exhume the remains of her husband from an Oxfordshire churchyard and reinter them in Antibes, where her husband had spent much of his life. The Chancellor declined to grant a faculty, being unable, following the guidelines laid down in In re Blagdon Cemetery [2002] Fam 299, to find any sufficient justification for allowing exhumation.

The petitioner wished to exhume the cremated remains of her mother from the churchyard at Mapledurham, Oxfordshire, and reinter them in a plot she had reserved in the cemetery at Chester le Street, County Durham, so that the remains of her mother, father and herself could all be interred in the same grave. The Chancellor determined to grant a faculty (subject to seeing written evidence that the grave at Chester le Street had been reserved), as one of the guiding principles of In re Blagdon Cemetery [2002] Fam 299 was that an exception to the general rule against exhumation could be made to allow the remains to be exhumed in order for them to be reinterred in a family grave.

A widow sought a faculty to authorise the laying of kerbs and chippings and a stone vase on her late husband's grave, which had previously been used for the interment of the remains of his great-uncle. The Parochial Church Council objected, but did not become a party opponent. The Chancellor decided that there were exceptional circumstances to justify the grant of a faculty, even though the proposals were outside the churchyards regulations. The grave had previously had kerbs, which had been moved 20 years earlier, and the incumbent at the time had assured the lady that there would be no problem in reinstating kerbs after the next burial in the grave; and there were already numerous examples close to the grave of kerbs, chipping and vases, so to refuse to allow another set of kerbs would be unreasonable in the circumstances.

Determination of two petitions on written representations in respect of a Victorian Grade 1 church (14 of its 15 stained glass windows designed by Edmund Burne-Jones and made by William Morris and company). The first petition sought permission to remove and dispose of two pews from the front of each side section of pews and relocate the pew frontals; to remove and dispose of three pews from the rear of each section of pews; to remove pew platform, level floor and re-carpet; to remove redundant piping from centre aisle; to remove and dispose of redundant parts of the existing sound system; to relocate sound desk to rear of pews; to install new sound desk equipment and audio-visual equipment. The second petition sought a faculty to authorise the introduction of a circular votive candle stand. Faculty granted in respect of each petition.

The petitioners wished to remove a small number of pews and pew frontals from the Grade I church, install some handrails and improve the lighting. The controversial item was the removal of two pew frontals from the front of the church. The reasons for the proposals were to make areas of the church more accessible for people in wheelchairs and to extend areas where special events could be held, such as children’s events, music groups, serving of food, group meetings. The Victorian Society and Historic England were concerned about the removal of the two pew frontals at the front of the nave. The Chancellor was satisfied that the petitioners had made a case for the changes, but made it a condition of the faculty that arrangements would be made to store the frontals inside the church or elsewhere.

The Chancellor was asked to grant a confirmatory faculty in respect of cremated remains which had already been exhumed (with a view to their subsequently being scattered) following the issue of a Ministry of Justice licence, which should not have issued, because the remains were interred in consecrated ground. The Chancellor granted a faculty: "Refusing a Faculty
would certainly be justified in principle, but would serve no useful purpose, and would cause and maintain offence. Granting a Faculty would render lawful what has so far been unlawful; and would regularise the present situation, which there is in any event no practical possibility of changing." The Chancellor pointed out that at the time of writing his judgment the form of application for a licence and the notes for guidance on the Ministry of Justice web site were out of date following changes to the law in 2015.