Ecclesiastical Law Association

Ecclesiastical Law Association

Judgments: Exhumations

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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.

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 Chancellor granted a faculty to authorise the exhumation of the cremated remains of the petitioner's father, which, due to an administrative error on the part of the town council, had been interred in the grave adjacent to the grave of the petitioner's mother, instead of in the petitioner's mother's grave.

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 plot 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.