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Exhumations

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The appellant's father died in 1981 and was cremated. His ashes were interred in
the Garden of Remembrance in the churchyard of Christ Church Alsager. The
appellant's mother died in 1995 and her body was buried in the same churchyard,
about 90 ft away from her husband's ashes. The appellant wanted his parents' remains to rest together in the same grave, and he therefore applied for the exhumation of his father's ashes, so that they could be put in his mother's grave. The Chancellor refused the petition and the appellant appealed. The decision of the Chancery Court of York was that when deciding a request for exhumation, the Chancellor should consider whether there was a good and proper reason for exhumation on a balance of probabilities, and the judgment sets out various circumstance which might be persuasive to allow an exhumation. However, in the present case the Court found that the Chancellor's decision was not in error: the father's remains had remained undisturbed for some 17 years, and the two places of interment were within the same consecrated curtilage and separated by only a very short distance. The appeal was accordingly dismissed.

The petitioner wished to have the cremated remains of her brother, Colin Berry, exhumed from Clayton Cemetery and reinterred in Queensbury Cemetery, where the Berry family had exclusive burial rights in two adjacent plots. Mr. Berry had died of a gunshot wound during a police raid in 2013. Following his death there had been a lack of communication between Mr. Berry's widow and the Mr. Berry's own relatives. Shortly after the death, Mr. Berry's widow moved away without paying the funeral bill from her husband's estate, and attempts to trace her had failed. The Chancellor found that there were exceptional circumstances in which to authorise exhumation, but the faculty was to be subject to a condition that the area for reinterment in Queensbury Cemetery should first be consecrated (to which Bradford City Council had agreed), before the remains were reinterred there, in order that the Court could maintain jurisdiction in the unlikely event of Mr. Berry's widow subsequently seeking to set aside the Chancellor's decision

The petitioner wished to have the cremated remains of her father exhumed from the cemetery at Bedworth and have them reinterred with the remains of her mother, already interred in a cemetery in Nuneaton, where three adjoining plots had already been reserved for family interments. The Chancellor determined that this was an appropriate case to allow the removal of remains to a family grave, within  the guidelines laid down in Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002] Fam 299.

The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty for the exhumation of the cremated remains of the petitioner's son so that they might be placed in a niche or columbarium in the garden of the petitioner's home.

Faculty refused for exhumation of cremated remains from a family grave in one part of the churchyard to a double plot for cremated remains in another part of the same churchyard.

Faculty granted for the exhumation of the cremated remains of three family members from inside a church which had been closed for public worship, and reinterment in a family grave in a local cemetery.

The petitioner applied for a faculty for the exhumation and reinterment of a body buried (due to an administrative error of the burial authority) in a grave reserved for a member of his family, as part of a block of graves reserved for the family. The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty on the grounds that (a) the desire of the petitioner's family to keep family burials in a rectangular block was just a 'personal preference', which was outweighed by the distress which would be caused to the family of the deceased and the Christian theology of the permanence of burial (the burial authority were willing to grant an exclusive right of burial for the petitioner's family in a plot adjacent to the 'block'); and (b) there had been a delay of one year between the burial in the wrong grave and the lodging of a petition.

The Petitioner sought a faculty to authorise the exhumation of the body of his father from the cemetery at Bloxwich, the interment having taken place in 1985. The Petitioner proposed that his father's remains should be reburied in a recently opened cemetery at Strawberry Lane, Cheslyn Hay, which had been laid out on land which the deceased had formerly farmed. After considering Re Blagdon Cemetery and other judgments, the Chancellor concluded that "the fact that a new cemetery or the like is created after the interment in circumstances where that new cemetery is thought to be a more fitting resting place for the remains in question than the place where they are interred will not, save in the most extreme of cases, be capable of being a special circumstance justifying exhumation."

The petitioner's father's body had been buried in a triple depth grave in 1976. In 1999 the cremated remains of the petitioner's grandfather had been buried in the same grave at a depth of two feet. The petitioner's mother died and before her death she had expressed a wish for a coffin burial in the same grave as her husband, but this could not be achieved without disturbing the cremated remains in the grave. The Chancellor granted a faculty to allow the cremated remains to be exhumed and reinterred at the head of the grave, in order to allow the burial of the petitioner's mother's body with that of her husband.

The Chancellor granted a faculty to allow the exhumation of the body of the petitioner's father, who died in 1992, in order that the body might be cremated and the ashes taken to Italy to be interred with the cremated remains of the petitioner's mother, who died in 2015, in a family grave in the village where the petitioners' parents had been brought up and were married.