Ecclesiastical Law Association

Ecclesiastical Law Association

Judgments: Graves

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A married couple had applied for a Faculty to reserve a grave space in the churchyard. The PCC had decided on a general policy of not supporting the reservation of graves. The Chancellor determined that, in the absence of an exceptional reason (there being none in this case) for him to act contrary to the PCC policy, he should not allow a faculty to be granted to reserve a grave.

The petitioners, who were husband and wife, applied to reserve a double depth grave in the churchyard. The petitioners were not residents of the parish, but were on the church electoral roll. Several parishioners objected to the reservation, claiming a widespread view that there had been a policy against reservation of graves agreed by the Parochial Church Council many years ago. The Chancellor found that in 1999 the PCC had agreed on a policy regarding the burial of persons who did not live in the parish, but the policy did not cover the reservation of graves. He accordingly granted a faculty.

A body had been interred in a grave reserved for someone else. The family which had reserved the grave applied for a faculty for exhumation of the body wrongly placed in the reserved grave. One of the two people for whom the grave was reserved was terminally ill. The Chancellor granted the faculty on the basis that there had been a genuine administrative error, which led to the interment in the grave already reserved.

In 1987 the petitioner had reserved for herself a cremation plot in the cemetery immediately next to the plot in which were interred the cremated remains of her parents. In 2016 she noticed that an interment had taken place in the plot which she had reserved. This situation had come about because in 2015 the burial authority had by mistake granted an exclusive right of burial in the same plot to someone else. The petitioner therefore applied for a faculty for exhumation of the cremated remains interred in the plot she had reserved in 1987. The Chancellor determined that this was an appropriate case in which a faculty should be granted, owing to the administrative error which had occurred.