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Exhumations

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The petitioner's mother died in a motor accident in 2000. The petitioner's father had been in such a state of shock that he had left it to a family friend to arrange the funeral. Notwithstanding that the father and his three daughters were all atheists, the family friend arranged for burial in the consecrated churchyard at Charlwood. Each member of the family had never been happy with this and had only recently found it possible to discuss the matter together. They now wished the mother's body to be exhumed and cremated, and the ashes scattered elsewhere. The Deputy Chancellor considered the guiding principles laid down in Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002] Fam 299 and concluded that this was an exceptional case where exhumation should be allowed: " ... I am persuaded that there was a fundamental mistake of intention in this case ... For a family of conscientious atheists, Christian burial was not the right choice. The daughters have tried very hard to honour and make sense of their mother’s memory through the medium of her grave, but they reached a point whereby the thing which should provide some solace was doing the opposite."

Interments of two family members had taken place in the same grave in 2012 and 2013. After the second interment there had been only a foot of earth over the second coffin, and in the course of time the second coffin had become exposed. An application was made for a faculty to authorise the exhumation of both coffins from the family grave and for re-interment of both coffins in the same grave in another part of the churchyard. The Chancellor determined that there were special circumstances to justify him permitting both coffins to be exhumed (even though the first coffin could have been left in situ with a sufficient covering of earth) and for them both to be re-interred in a new family grave.

The Chancellor determined that exceptional circumstances existed to justify the proposed exhumation of the cremated remains of a young man from the churchyard in Kenilworth for reinterment in the same grave as his late parents (or in the next grave) in a churchyard in Norfolk, the Chancellor noting similarities between the circumstamces in this case and those in the case of Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002] Fam 299.

A mother wished to have her son's body exhumed from the churchyard of St. Patrick Earlswood and reinterred in a churchyard in Ireland, where she now lived. Here reason for the request was that if her son;s body remained in England, she would have difficulty in visiting and tending the grave regularly. The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty. The petitioner had not shown any exceptional circumstances to justify the grant of a faculty.

The petitioner, on behalf of herself and her six siblings, sought a faculty to authorise the exhumation of her brother's cremated remains from their parents' grave and reinterment in a nearby new grave. The deceased's daughter, believing it had been her father's wish to be interred with his parents, had arranged the interment without consulting the deceased's siblings, who only learned about the interment after it had taken place. It caused them great distress that there had been another interment in their parents' grave. The Chancellor was satisfied that there were exceptional circumstances to justify exhumation, as the grave had "become a focus of disquiet and grievance amongst the family members with a real degree of distress to some."

The petitioner wished to exhume the cremated remains of his father and reinter them in the same churchyard in the grave of his mother, who died after his father. Shortly before he died, the petitioner's father had told the petitioner that he wanted to be cremated. The petitioner's mother had expressed regret after her husband's death that she had been unable to persuade her husband to be buried, so that he could be buried in the same grave as herself. But the retired priest who carried out the interment of her husband's ashes had assured the mother that, when she was buried, it would be possible to put her husband's cremated remains into her grave. The petitioner was also reassured by either the priest or the funeral director, that there would be no problem. The Chancellor determined that there had been an innocent mistake on the part of the retired priest, and further that there was a misunderstanding by all the family, amounting to a mistake, as to what they could or could not do. He therefore decided that there were special circumstances in this case to justify allowing the exhumation and reinterment.

A widow had reserved by Faculty a grave next to the grave of her late husband. By mistake someone else was buried in the grave reserved by the widow. Faculty granted to the widow for exhumation of the remains of her husband, and reinterment in another part of the churchyard and reservation for her of a grave next to her late husband's new grave.

The petitioner's mother died in 1993, having expressed a wish to be cremated, and her remains were interred in the area set aside for cremated remains in Edgmond churchyard. The Petitioner's father died in 2016, having expressed a wish to be buried near to the remains of his wife, and his body was interred in another part of the same churchyard. The petitioner and his sisters wished to have the cremated remains of their mother exhumed and reinterred in their father's grave, so that both parents' remains would be together in a family grave. The Chancellor considered this an appropriate case in which to grant a faculty, as it was a case where "there is a proper and understandable proposal to reunite the remains of husband and wife in one plot in the same churchyard as currently contains those remains in separate plots".

Faculty sought for exhumation of husband's remains from grave in Norfolk and reinterment in a grave in Co. Atrim, the widow petitioner and her daughter having had to move, "for financial reasons" to live near their family in Co. Antrim. Faculty refused, the Chancellor being unable to find sufficient justification to grant a Faculty within the guidelines set out in the Court of Arches decision in Re Blagdon.

The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty for the exhumation of cremated remains from one family grave and re-interment in another family grave, the remains having been interred 28 years previously.