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Alphabetical Index of all judgments on this web site as at 1 October 2022

Index by Dioceses of 2022 judgments on this web site as at 1 October 2022



The petitioner, who had lived in the parish all his life, wished to reserve a grave space in the churchyard for 25 years. According to the vicar, there was space in the churchyard for burials for a period of 5 to 10 years. There was also an extra piece of land, currently used as a recreation area, which could be brought into use and accommodate burials for a further 50 years. In 2023, the Parochial Church Council decided not to support any further reservations of grave spaces. The Chancellor decided, in view of the petitioner's life expectancy being 7-10 years, owing to paralysis following an accident, and for pastoral reasons, to grant a faculty reserving a grave for a period of 7 years, so that no-one else with a right of burial would be prejudiced by the grant before the space for further burials was full. The petitioner was given liberty to apply for an extension during the seventh year.

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.

The petitioner sought a faculty giving her the right to be buried in the same grave as her late partner. There had been a rift in the past between the petitioner and the deceased's mother. (See Re St. Peter Bourton-on-Dunsmore [2022] ECC Cov 6, where the same petitioner sought to have reference to herself added to her partner's memorial (commissioned by his mother), but her application was refused.) In the present case, the deceased's mother did not object to the petitioner having the right to be buried in the same grave. The Chancellor granted a faculty.

The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty for the reservation of a grave space. Although several relatives of the petitioner were buried in the churchyard, the petitioner was not a parishioner and did not have a legal right to be buried in the churchyard. Also, the reservation of a grave would use up a space in an almost full churchyard and prevent the burial of another person, who would otherwise have had a legal right to be buried there.

The petitioner wished to reserve a grave space next to the grave of her son, who had died in an accident aged 28 in 2022, so that the remains of members of the family who could not be buried in her son's grave could be buried in the grave next to his. The Parochial Church Council voted not to support the grave reservation. Whilst understanding the petitioner's desire to reserve a grave next to her son's, the Chancellor refused to grant a faculty for a number of reasons as set out in the judgment, including that the petitioner's son's grave (which was triple-depth) had further capacity for burials and interments of ashes; other family members were buried in various parts of the churchyard 9and here was capacity for further interments in some of them); the churchyard had capacity for burials for many years to come; and the reservation would set a precedent which would hamper the fair management of the churchyard.

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.

The petitioners, residents of the parish for 58 years and with many relatives buried in the churchyard, wished to reserve a grave space for 25 years. In 2022 the Parochial Church Council had made a decision not to support any more reservations of graves, in view of the small number of empty grave spaces remaining. The Deputy Chancellor concluded that there was no sufficient justification for the Court to take the exceptional course of allowing a reservation when there was only space for burials for an estimated period of 18 to 24 months.

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.