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Alphabetical Index of all judgments on this web site as at 20 January 2022

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The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty for the reservation of a double grave, as there were very few empty grave spaces left in the churchyard.

The petitioners wished to reserve a grave in the churchyard next to the grave of their son. Two parishioners objected: one, on the grounds that the churchyards regulations did not allow a grave reservation; and the other, on the grounds that the reservation would create a gap in a row of graves. The Chancellor granted a faculty. The first objector had misunderstood the purpose of the churchyard regulations, which did not prohibit a grave reservation, and, as regards the second objection, there would be only a modest effect on the appearance of the churchyard. The petitioners (who were in their 60s) were parishioners and entitled to be buried in the churchyard; there was sufficient room for burials for approximately thirty years; and there was a good reason for the petitioners wishing to be buried next to their son.

The petitioner wished to reserve a grave space in the churchyard for himself and his wife. They lived in the parish and had relatives buried in the churchyard, including their daughter, who had died in a road traffic accident at the age of 26. The Parochial Church Council did not support the application, as it had exercised a policy for some time of not supporting grave reservations. It was estimated that the churchyard would be full in 18 years' time. The Chancellor decided that there were exceptional circumstances justifying the grant of a faculty.

In 2010 the petitioner had approached the then Rector regarding the reservation of a grave for himself and his wife. The Rector subsequently wrote to the petitioner to say that the grave in question had been reserved, though in fact no faculty had been granted. In 2015 the PCC refused to support another application for the reservation of a grave, and the Chancellor had refused a faculty in January 2016, on the grounds that the churchyard was almost full of burials and closure was contemplated. When the present petitioner became aware in 2017 of the PCC's refusal to support a faculty in 2015, he was upset, firstly, that he had not been advised in 2010 that a faculty was required, and, secondly, that a ‘precedent’ appeared to have been set by a refusal of a reservation in 2015/16. He applied nevertheless for a faculty. The Chancellor granted a faculty in the special circumstances of the case, making it clear that he did not do so as a result of the petitioner's position as a reader in the parish, but because since 2010 the petitioner and his wife had entertained a reasonable expectation that their burial arrangements had lawfully been approved.

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.

In 2000 a churchyard closing order had been made by Order in Council. Notwithstanding the Order, burials of coffins and cremated remains had continued until 2019. There was a further Order in 2019 modifying the original Order. The upshot of the two Orders was that no further burials were allowed except (i) in an unused grave reserved by faculty; (ii) in an existing vault or walled grave; or (iii) in the existing grave of a family member. The judgment contains a detailed discussion concerning rights of burial and also as to whether both the original churchyard and the large churchyard extension had both been closed by the closing order, or just the extension. The Chancellor had before him four faculty applications for the interment of ashes in existing graves of relatives in the churchyard extension, which he was satisfied was covered by the closing order (as amended). He determined that the petitions were unnecessary, because the amending closing order allowed interments in existing family graves. He therefore dismissed the petitions.