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Exhumations

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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."

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.

Two Faculty Petitions, each seeking exhumation of cremated remains from an area where access was difficult for an elderly relative, and reinterment in a more accessible location about six feet away. Faculty refused in each case, 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, but suggesting that the memorials might be moved to the alternative locations, so as to provide easier access and so that the elderly relatives could choose for their own cremated remains to be interred in due course either in the graves of their loved ones or beneath the newly moved memorials.

The petitioner, who was aged 81 and used a wheelchair, found access to her mother’s grave in Gunton churchyard very difficult, as the grave was a good way back from the churchyard path. She therefore applied for a faculty to authorise the exhumation of her mother’s remains and re-interment in a nearby cemetery. The Chancellor, after considering the principles laid down in Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002] Fam 299, determined that no special reasons existed which would justify an exception to the norm of permanence of Christian burial.

The Chancellor, taking into account the guidance in Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002], determined that there were special reasons for permitting exhumation and reinterment. The cremated remains of the father of the three petitioning children had been buried in a parish churchyard. At the time it was intended that his wife's cremated remains should be placed with his. When his wife died, the children found that her will said that she wished to be buried in a family grave in a cemetery. They mistakenly felt obliged to comply with the terms of the will, but this defeated the original intention of the mother and the father to be buried together. After the second burial the children regretted not having buried their parents together and made a fairly prompt application to rectify the situation. Accordingly, the Chancellor allowed the cremated remains of the father to be exhumed and reinterred in the family grave in the cemetery.

The Chancellor found that there were special circumstances (as set out in the judgment) which justified him in granting a faculty for exhumation and reinterment in the same churchyard. The petitioner wished to move the cremated remains of his father to the grave of his mother, who had died recently and who had expressed a wish before her death to have her body buried and for her husband's cremated remains to be moved into the same grave, not realising that there could be difficulties in carrying out her wishes.