Judgment Search

Exhumations

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The petitioners wished to have their father's ashes (interred in 2004) exhumed and reinterred in the grave of their mother, whose body was buried in 2015. Considering the guidelines in Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002], the Chancellor determined to grant a faculty on the basis that (a) the reinterment would be into a family grave and would free up a cremation plot

The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty to authorise the temporary removal from the vault beneath the Sheldon Chapel of a skull, possibly that of William Shakespeare, to enable the carrying out of a detailed archaeological investigation to include laser scanning, radio carbon dating, and an anthropological assessment. The Chancellor found no scholarly or other evidence to support the story that the skull was that of William Shakespeare.

The petitioner wished to exhume the cremated remains of her father and reinter them in the grave of her mother in the same churchyard. The Chancellor decided that neither a desire to have both parents' remains together, nor the state of the location where the father's remains were interred, were enough to amount to special circumstances to justify the grant of a faculty for exhumation. Nor was there any element of mistake as to the places of interment. He therefore refused to grant a faculty.

Faculty granted for exhumation and reinterment in family grave in another churchyard.

The petitioner wished to have her late husband's cremated remains exhumed and reinterred in Scotland, on a property that the deceased had acquired in 1962. Four relatives and a friend of the deceased objected. They contended that the petitioner did not like them putting floral tributes and cards on the grave and had been observed removing flowers and cards, and that the petitioner's motive for moving the remains to Scotland was to put them where the objectors would find it difficult to put tributes on the deceased's grave. The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty for exhumation and reinterment and urged restraint on both sides, advising the objectors not to put cards on the grave and expressing the hope that the petitioner would not to remove flowers placed by the objectors.

The cremated remains of a member of the family concerned in this matter had recently been interred in her parents' grave. The interment had been arranged by certain members of the family, who did not discuss the location of the interment with other members of the family, who, as it turned out, objected to the last deceased being interred in her parents' grave, and they applied for a faculty for exhumation. The Chancellor ruled that the interment should not have taken place in the parents' grave without the agreement of all of the next of kin, and accordingly granted a faculty for exhumation and reinterment elsewhere.

The Petitioner wished to have the cremated remains of her parents-in-law exhumed from the churchyard of the now redundant church at Brownsover and reinterred in the churchyard where her late husband's remains were interred. The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty, as he could find no exceptional reason to justify him in doing so. In particular, he said that the fact that the churchyard at Brownsover was currently largely overgrown, was not a sufficient reason to justify the grant of a faculty.

The petitioner's mother had died in 1991 and the family had had no choice but to follow the then policy of the PCC to have cremated remains interred close together in a double row with memorial tablets touching adjacent ones. Some years later the PCC changed its policy in an area where cremation plots were wider and interments were marked by upright stones. The petitioner's father did not like the area where his wife had been interred as the area looked paved, which he thought unseemly. He had arranged before he died in 2017 for his own remains to be interred in the new area. The petitioner wished to have his mother's cremated remains moved to his father's grave. The Chancellor decided that the combination of three circumstances - the family's unhappiness about the interment in 1991, the change in policy of the PCC, and the creation of a family grave by placing the wife's remains with those of her husband - justified him in granting a faculty.

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.