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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



A father and son had died together in 1977 and their ashes had been interred in a public cemetery. The father's widow applied for a faculty to authorise exhumation of the remains and their reinterment in a private burial ground with a view to creating a family grave where the remains of other members of the family could be interred. The Chancellor received reports from a psychotherapist and a general practitioner that the exhumation and reinterment would be beneficial to the mental well-being of one of the widow's daughters. The Chancellor granted a faculty, subject to a condition that the remains of the father and son, after such a long period, could be identified and fully removed.

The petitioner wished to have her mother's body exhumed from a consecrated burial ground in the Diocese of Chichester and reinterred in a consecrated burial ground in another diocese. The reason given by the petitioner was that the proximity of her mother’s grave to those of close family members of her ex-husband, who had been violent and abusive towards the petitioner and her children, was affecting her mental health and made it stressful for the petitioner and her children to visit the grave. There was medical evidence to support the Petitioner's state of health. The Chancellor granted a faculty, being satisfied that there were special circumstances which justified the making of an exception from the theological norm that Christian burial is final. In view of the sensitivity of the matter, the Chancellor decided to make the judgment anonymous and required that it should not be published until after the exhumation and reinterment had been carried out.

Two petitions and two pending petitions relating to the exhumation of cremated remains, currently stored in a municipal cemetery on a temporary basis in non-biodegradable urns beneath plaques, on the expiration of the initial licences.  The chancellor considered the need for a faculty in such a situation, and indicated that he would be minded to grant a faculty where it could be shown that the original interment was never intended to be permanent. Faculties would also be granted in two cases on the basis of reinterment in a family grave elsewhere.

A faculty was sought to permit the exhumation of the remains of a husband, in order that they might be interred with the remains of his wife in another grave in the same cemetery. His wife had expressed a wish in her will to be buried with her husband, but her husband's remains had been interred in a family grave where there had previously been three interments and there was no more room for further interments. The Chancellor determined that the circumstances justified an exception to the general rule against exhumation, so as to create a family grave in which the remains of both husband and wife could be buried together.

The petitioners wished to exhume their father's cremated remains and to scatter the ashes with the ashes of the petitioner's mother (recently deceased) at a favourite spot in the Lake District. The petitioners' father had expressed a wish to have his ashes scattered in the Lake District, but the petitioners had agreed with their mother at the time of her husband's funeral to bury the ashes in the Cemetery. Now that their mother had died, the petitioner's wished to comply with their father's wishes, which their mother had agreed to before she died. The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty. In accordance with the principles laid down by the Court of Arches in Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002], remains should only be exhumed in exceptional circumstances. The petitioners could not argue that there had been a mistake in dealing with their father's ashes as they and their mother had agreed to interment in the Cemetery. A change of mind as to a place of burial did not amount to an exceptional circumstance. The proposal to scatter the ashes was an additional reason for refusing a faculty.

It had been the wish of George Nicholson to be buried in the grave of his father, who had died in 1945 and was buried in the War Graves section of Benton Cemetery. When George Nicholson died in 2018, his ashes were placed in the grave marked by his father's memorial. In 2019, when George Nicholson's sister died, and it was proposed to inter her ashes in her father's grave, it was discovered that in 2006 the Commonwealth War Graves Commission had removed the memorial of George Nicholson's father and also the adjacent memorial for restoration work and the two memorials had been replaced the wrong way round, so that George Nicholson's ashes had been placed in the grave next to his father's. The burial authority applied for a faculty to rectify the mistake by the exhumation of George Nicholson's ashes from the neighbouring grave, so that they could be interred in his father's grave. The Deputy Chancellor determined that there were exceptional circumstances to justify the grant of a faculty for exhumation and reinterment.

Owing to an administrative error on the part of the burial authority, some cremated remains had not been buried in the grave purchased by the deceased, but in a grave already containing the cremated remains of a married couple. The Chancellor determined that the exceptional circumstances justified the grant of a faculty for exhumation and reinterment.

Faculty refused for the exhumation from a cemetery of the cremated remains of a child buried in 1960, and reinterment in the churchyard of a parish to which the parents had moved. The Chancellor took into account the time since the interment, and also did not accept the Petitioner's argument that the deterioration in the care of the cemetery justified him in making an exception to the presumption against exhumation.

The petitioner wished to have the cremated remains of her daughter, who had died in in a tragic accident in 1998, exhumed from a grave in Parkside Road Cemetery in Kendal and reinteered with the remains of the petitioner's recently deceased father in another grave in the same cemetery. For a number of reasons, including the fact that the father's remains could be interred in the same grave as the daughter, the Chancellor declined to grant the faculty sought, because he did not accept that any exception was warranted by the facts of this case to the presumption of the permanence of Christian burial.

The petitioner wished to exhume the remains of her baby daughter (who died in 1948) and of her husband (who died in 1989) from Bingham Cemetery, a few miles from her home in the nearby village of Gamston. At the time of the interments, Bingham was the place where people from Gamston were normally interred. The petitioner and her daughter and son-in-law had purchased two plots in Wilford Hill Cemetery, about one mile away from Gamston.  The intention was that the petitioner’s daughter and son-in-law should in due course be buried in one of the plots at Wilford Hill and that the petitioner’s husband’s and infant daughter’s remains should be transferred to the other grave, in which the petitioner would eventually be buried. The Chancellor considered that there were no exceptional circumstances to justify the exhumations, and he accordingly refused to grant a faculty. This was not a case of a desire for remains to be moved to a family grave, but to exhume from a family grave, in which it was possible for the petitioner’s remains to be interred in due course.