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Exhumations

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Faculty granted for exhumation, to allow the cremated remains of the deceased to be placed with the remains of his wife in a family grave in a different churchyard.

The Chancellor found that there were exceptional circumstances to justify him granting a faculty for the exhumation of the cremated remains of the petitioner's father from Kenilworth Cemetery and reinterment with the cremated remains of the petitioner's mother in a grave in the churchyard of St. Nicholas Kenilworth, which already contained the remains of the petitioner's aunt. At the time of the father's death the petitioner had been told mistakenly that burial in the churchyard was not possible, whilst in fact it was possible to inter into an existing grave which would become a family grave.

The petitioner's father had died in 2005 and his cremated remains had been interred in the cemetery. His widow, during her lifetime, had expressed a wish to have her cremated remains buried in a more accessible part of the cemetery and for her husband's cremated remains to be exhumed and reinterred in the same grave as her own remains. The widow died in 2017. The petitioner applied for a faculty for exhumation and reinterment of her father's ashes, even though it would be possible to inter the ashes of her mother in the plot where her father's ashes were interred. The Chancellor determined that there were no special circumstances, within the guidelines set out in Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002] Fam. 299, to justify granting a faculty for exhumation.

In 1985 the petitioner's young sister's body had been buried in a consecrated part of Lambeth Cemetery. The family are Italian Roman Catholics, and when the burial took place they had no understanding of the significance of burial in consecrated ground, and it had been the intention of the parents after ten or so years to return to Southern Italy and take their daughter’s remains with them with a view to reburial in an above-ground mausoleum in South Italy, where that form of burial is common. The plan to return to Italy changed, but in 1998 a new mausoleum was opened at Streatham Park Cemetery, and since then it had been much used by the Italian community. The petitioner wished to move his sister's body to the mausoleum. The Chancellor granted a faculty, on the basis that at the time of burial there had been a mistake in the family's understanding of the nature of, and the consequences of, interment in consecrated ground, which had not been explained to them.

The petitioner wished to exhume the body of her daughter from Lambeth Cemetery with a view to reinterment in Streatham Park Cemetery. The petitioner's family were Italian Roman Catholics. They had intended after about 10 years to return to Italy and have the remains of the daughter exhumed and reinterred in an above-ground mausoleum in Southern Italy. However, following the opening of a new mausoleum in Streatham Park Cemetery, and a change of plan as to their future, they wished to have the remains buried at Streatham Park Cemetery mausoleum, where many Italians were being buried. As the family of the deceased had intended the original burial to be temporary and had a mistaken view of the consequences of burial in consecrated ground, the Chancellor was persuaded to treat the circumstances as exceptional and to grant a faculty.

Two of the petitioners applied for a faculty for exhumation, in order to establish by DNA testing whether the person it was proposed to be exhumed was their father. The objectors were the brother and sister of the deceased. An Irish Court was holding an award made under the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002, the deceased having been abused in a residential institution when he was young. Establishing whether the two petitioners were the children of the deceased would determine whether they were entitled to the award. The Chancellor determined that this was an exceptional case where it was appropriate to grant a faculty.

The remains of a child who died at three days old were buried in Loughborough Cemetery. The family subsequently moved to Australia and sought a faculty to allow the exhumation of the baby's remains, so that they might be cremated and placed in a niche in a cemetery in Australia where the parents had reserved niches for their own remains. Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002] considered. The Chancellor was unable to find sufficient reason to justify an exception to the general principle of permanence in respect of Christian burial. Petition dismissed.

The petitioners, father and daughter, applied for a faculty to exhume the remains of the father's late wife's cremated remains from a cremated remains plot in the cemetery, for reinterment in a full grave plot in the same cemetery, which had already been purchased by the father and two of his daughters. The father had realised after the interment that he would not be able to be buried with his wife's remains, as he was a Roman Catholic and he believed that the Roman Catholic Church required its members to have full body burial. The Chancellor decided to grant a faculty. The determing factors were: (1) there had not been a long period between the interment and the husband's realisation of the frustration of his desire to be buried with his wife; (2) the husband had had to make a quick decision about a plot for his wife at a traumatic time when he was unable clearly to think through the consequences; and (3) the remains of his wife would be reinterred in a family grave, thus releasing a cremation plot.

The Petitioner applied for leave to appeal against the decision of the Chancellor earlier in the year not to allow exhumation. Application dismissed.

The petitioner, aged 88 years, wished to have the remains of his late wife exhumed from Southern Cemetery, Manchester, and reinterred in Mill Lane Cemetery, near Cheadle, about six miles away, closer to where the petitioner now lived, as he was finding it increasingly difficult to visit her grave. The Chancellor found no exceptional reasons which would justify him in authorising the exhumation and reinterment