Judgment Search


Click on one of the following to view and/or download the relevant document:

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 wished to exhume the ashes of her late husband and reinter them in the grave of her parents within the same churchyard. As Chancellor found that the petitioner had been misinformed as to where her husband's ashes had to be buried -  in a newly created garden of remembrance. The Chancellor granted a faculty to allow the ashes to be buried in the family grave.

A funeral director applied a few days after an interment of ashes for a faculty to authorise their temporary exhumation, as he had overlooked the family's request that a portion of the ashes should be withheld from interment in the churchyard, in order that they could be interred elsewhere. The Chancellor granted a faculty to allow the the removal of a portion of the ashes from the casket containing the ashes as the funeral director had acted promptly and his mistake was an exceptional reason to justify exhumation, in order that the wishes of the family could be carried out. 

The petitioner's father's body had been buried in the churchyard in 2014. A double depth grave had been requested, but it had not been possible to dig double depth. When the petitioner's mother died in 2017, a request was made for burial in an adjoining grave, but the petitioner was informed that it would not be possible, as there were tree roots in the way, so the petitioner's mother was buried elsewhere in the churchyard. The petitioner subsequently sought advice from an arboriculturist, who advised that it would be possible to dig an adjacent grave without harm to the tree. The Petitioner therefore sought permission to exhume her mother's body and inter it in the grave next to her father. The Chancellor decided that there were exceptional circumstances to justify granting a faculty for exhumation and reinterment.

The petitioner wished to have the cremated remains of her father exhumed from the churchyard and interred along with the body of her mother in the nearby cemetery, where her brother was also buried. The Chancellor decided that this was a case where an exception could be allowed to the general rule against allowing exhumation, since he considered it a mistake for the family, on the parish priest's advice, to have had the father's cremated remains interred in the churchyard, when the family knew that the mother was against cremation and that further coffin burials in the churchyard were not possible; furthermore, the remains of the three family members who had died – father, mother and son – would then be together.

The petitioner (aged 98) and her late husband had lived in Belgium but had regularly travelled to Felixstowe over many years to visit the petitioner's mother. The petitioner's husband had died in 1992 and his ashes had been interred in Felixstowe Cemetery. The husband had no religious faith and the petitioner believed at the time of interment of his ashes that the ashes were being interred in an unconsecrated part of the cemetery, though it was eventually discovered that the whole of the cemetery was consecrated. The petitioner now wished to exhume her husband's ashes, and after her death to have his ashes and her own ashes scattered on the seashore in Felixstowe, in order to fulfill their long-held wish. In 1993, at the time when it was thought that the grave was unconsecrated, the petitioner had obtained a Home Office Licence to exhume her husband's ashes, but she had allowed the licence to lapse. The Chancellor, in the very special circumstances of this case, decided to treat this as an exceptional situation where he felt justified in granting a faculty.

The petitioner wished to have the cremated remains of her parents exhumed from the churchyard and reinterred in an unconsecrated burial ground at the Trappist Abbey of Mount St. Bernard, near Coalville in North Leicestershire, where the remains of several members of her husband's family were interred. The petitioner's original reason for seeking exhumation had been that the family home, Quenby Hall, next to the churchyard, had to be sold. But in a revised petition the petitioner asked that a faculty be granted for three reasons: (i) the interments at Hungerton had been a mistake; (ii) it was intended to put the remains in a family grave; and (ii) pastoral reasons. The Chancellor did not accept the arguments and dismissed the petition.

The petitioners' parents had intended to be buried in the same grave. The Petitioners' mother died in 2008 and was buried in the chosen grave. When the petitioners' father died in 2019, it was discovered a few days before the funeral that the grave of their mother had not been dug sufficiently deep to accommodate a second burial, and so, as a 'temporary measure', the father was buried in another part of the churchyard. The petitioners sought a faculty to authorise the exhumation of their mother's body, so that the grave could be dug deeper to accommodate the burial of their father's body. The Chancellor accepted that a mistake had been made in that the instructions to dig a double depth grave in 2008 had not been followed, and he granted a faculty for the double exhumation and reinterment, conditional upon it being possible to dig the mother's grave deeper, failing which the mother's remains could be exhumed and reinterred in her husband's grave.

A couple had planned to be buried in a double grave. The husband died in 2006 and was duly buried in the grave. His wife died in 2020, but a trial dig two weeks before the planned funeral date made it clear that the husband's coffin had not been buried sufficiently deep to allow the burial of a second coffin with enough earth above it. The undertakers therefore applied for a faculty to authorise the exhumation of the husband's coffin, to enable the grave to be dug deeper, in order to accommodate both coffins at sufficient depth. The Chancellor found that there were exceptional circumstances to justify the granting of a faculty, due to a mistake by the undertakers when the grave was originally dug in 2006.

The Chancellor granted a faculty for exhumation, finding that there were sufficient special circumstances to justify him doing so. The undertakers had failed to ensure that the grave digger had dug the grave sufficiently deep. In consequence of this failure, the coffin had become exposed to the surface at one end, where the ground had sunk. Additionally, the ground anchors supporting the headstone had pierced the top corner of the coffin and the coffin lid was broken or had rotted since burial. The Chancellor directed that the cost of the exhumation, including the faculty fees, should rest with the undertakers.

The petitioner wished to have the remains of her late father-in-law temporarily exhumed for DNA analysis. She claimed that in 2018 her husband had been wrongly convicted of two rapes in 1983 and 1988. The petitioner's sister-in-law did not believe that her brother had committed the offences of which he had been convicted, but that her father might well have been the perpetrator. The Chancellor considered that the petitioner had made out a case for the temporary disinterment of the remains and sampling of bone fragments for DNA analysis, to establish whether there was a possibility of a miscarriage of justice. He accordingly granted a faculty.