Judgment Search

Exhumations

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In 1999 the petitioner reserved a grave in the cemetery next to the grave of his late sister. He was given a deed recording the reservation. In 2016 he discovered that someone had been buried in the grave he had reserved. He complained to the burial authority, who said the register had been amended to record a different grave number. The Chancellor was satisfied that the petitioner had not agreed to a change of reserved grave. The petitioner, first directly and then through solicitors, failed to persuade the burial authority to arrange an exhumation and reinterment in another grave. He therefore applied for a faculty. Whilst accepting that there had been an administrative mistake by the burial authority, the Chancellor decided not to grant a faculty, because of "the possibility of real consequences" for the family of the person buried in the grave and the alternative possibilities for the petitioner to be buried in another nearby grave, or in the same grave as his sister, or "the prospect of exhuming [his sister's] remains so that they could be reburied in a plot with space to the side".

The parish priest applied for a restoration order following the interment in the churchyard without permission of a portion of the cremated remains of the novelist Tom Sharpe, together with various other items. The Chancellor granted a restoration order.

The petitioner wished to exhume the cremated remains of her late father and reinter them elsewhere in the same churchyard in the grave of her mother, who died one year after her father. The Chancellor considered that there were special circumstances which allowed him to grant a faculty.

The petitioner had discovered that the memorial to her husband had not been laid directly over the casket containing his ashes, when she had previously been assured by a churchwarden this that was not the case. (She in fact had taken it upon herself without faculty to move the casket under the memorial.) The petitioner felt that she had been deliberately misled, and she wished to have her husband's ashes exhumed and reinterred in a local cemetery. This had given rise to a breakdown in relationships between the petitioner and the vicar and churchwardens. The petitioner claimed that every time she visited her husband's grave she felt anger and grievance towards the vicar and churchwardens. The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty for exhumation and reinterment: "The fact that the widow or widower of a person whose remains have been interred in a particular churchyard has strong feelings of anger and grievance towards the incumbent and churchwardens of the particular church cannot justify the exhumation of the remains in question."

Faculty granted for exhumation fromĀ  a husband's grave in England and reinterment in the grave of his wife in Australia. The judgment contains a discussion of the decisions in a number of "portable remains" and "family grave" cases.

The Petitioner wished to have her late husband's remains exhumed and reinterred in a churchyard nearer to where she now lived, her reason for the request being that she now found it difficult to visit her husband's grave. Applying the principles laid down by the Court of Arches in Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002] Fam 299, the Chancellor refused to grant a faculty.

An application was made for a faculty to exhume the cremated remains of James Thomas Padgett (interred in 1988) from the churchyard of St. Helen's Edlington, with a view to the remains being reinterred with the ashes of his wife, which were interreded in 2007 in Newport Cemetery, nearer to the home of the deceased's daughter, who also wished to have her ashes interred in due course in the same grave in the cemetery. The applicant stated that her osteo-arthritis now prevented her from travelling long distances. The Chancellor, applying the principles in Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002], did not find any special circumstances to justify him granting a faculty.

The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty to authorise a shallow excavation in and around a late nineteenth century grave in Gorton churchyard, in order to establish whether the Moors Murderer Ian Brady buried something in a hessian sack in the grave.

The petitioner's father's body had been buried in the churchyard in 2014. A double depth grave had been requested, but it had not been possible to dig double depth. When the petitioner's mother died in 2017, a request was made for burial in an adjoining grave, but the petitioner was informed that it would not be possible, as there were tree roots in the way, so the petitioner's mother was buried elsewhere in the churchyard. The petitioner subsequently sought advice from an arboriculturist, who advised that it would be possible to dig an adjacent grave without harm to the tree. The Petitioner therefore sought permission to exhume her mother's body and inter it in the grave next to her father. The Chancellor decided that there were exceptional circumstances to justify granting a faculty for exhumation and reinterment.

The petitioner wished to have the cremated remains of her parents exhumed from the churchyard and reinterred in an unconsecrated burial ground at the Trappist Abbey of Mount St. Bernard, near Coalville in North Leicestershire, where the remains of several members of her husband's family were interred. The petitioner's original reason for seeking exhumation had been that the family home, Quenby Hall, next to the churchyard, had to be sold. But in a revised petition the petitioner asked that a faculty be granted for three reasons: (i) the interments at Hungerton had been a mistake; (ii) it was intended to put the remains in a family grave; and (ii) pastoral reasons. The Chancellor did not accept the arguments and dismissed the petition.