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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 wished to have her husband's body exhumed from the cemetery in Sunderland, in order to have the body cremated and the ashes then taken to a parish in Northamptonshire to which the petitioner proposed to move. The Chancellor, applying the guidelines set out by the Court of Arches decision in Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002] Fam 299, considered that there was insufficient reason to justify the grant of a faculty for exhumation.

This was an appeal from a decision of the Chancellor of the Diocese of Bath & Wells, who refused to grant a faculty for the exhumation of the remains of Steven Whittle from Blagdon Cemetery, Somerset, with a view to their re-interment in Stowmarket Cemetery, Suffolk. The deceased's parents had difficulty in travelling from Suffolk to Somerset to visit their son's grave, and wished for his remains to be moved near to their permanent home and placed in a family grave. The judgment discusses the theology of burial and sets out various factors which should be considered before a decision is made as to whether an exception should be allowed from the general presumption of permanence arising from the initial act of interment in consecrated ground. The Court directed that a faculty should be granted by the Consistory Court. The Court made its decision on a number of grounds, one being that the remains were to be reinterred in a family grave in Stowmarket.

The body of a member of the petitioner's family had been interred in the cemetery in 1969, and the intention had been that the coffin would be buried sufficiently deep that three family coffins could be accommodated in the grave. When a second body was interred in 2022, it was discovered that there would not be sufficient room for a third interment. The petitioner therefore sought a faculty to allow the temporary exhumation of the two coffins in the grave, so that the grave could be dug deeper and the two coffins reinterred, thus enabling a third interment in the grave in due course. The Chancellor was satisfied that a mistake had been made in 1969, therefore the case was sufficiently exceptional to warrant the grant of a faculty as requested.

A man had died in 2023 and, the whereabouts of any relatives being unknown at the time, those who took on responsibility for his burial arranged for him to be buried in a consecrated part of the Bognor Regis Town Cemetery. When the man's family became aware of the burial, they applied for a faculty to allow them to exhume the deceased's body, to have it cremated and then to scatter the ashes elsewhere. The reason given by the family for their application was that the deceased had been a lifelong atheist and would not have wished to be buried in a Christian burial ground. The Chancellor decided that the Christian burial had been a mistake and he therefore granted a faculty for exhumation and disposal of the deceased's ashes in due course as the family thought fit.

The son of the petitioner, who was of the Sikh faith, was stillborn 40 years ago. Owing to the petitioner's atate of health and shock at the time, the funeral arrangements were left to other members of the family, and the body of the stillborn was buried in a coffin in a consecrated part of the cemetery by a Sikh priest, because there was no area in the cemetery set aside for burials of those of the Sikh faith. Had the petitioner known at the time that Cremation was an option, she would have had her stillborn son cremated and his ashes taken to India for scattering on an Indian river in accordance with the Sikh her faith. The Chancellor acepted that the petitioner had been haunted all her life by the lack of choice she had had in the way that her stillborn son's funeral was dealt with and her own wishes had not been fulfullied, so that, as she faced her own mortality, she was now troubled by a desire to have her son's death commemorated in the way she would have wished, in order to give her peace in her remaining years. The Chancellor decided that ther were exceptional circumstances to justify granting a faculty, subject to the conditions listed in the judgment.

The petitioners wished to have the cremated remains of their father exhumed from Bourne Abbey and reinterred in a cemetery in Harlow, where their mother's cremated remains had been interred following her recent death. Upon consideration of the guidelines laid down in the Court of Arches decision in Re Blagdon Cemetery 2002 Fam 299, the Chancellor determined that this was a case where an exception could be made to the presumption that burial should be treated as final, as the remains of the petitioners' father would be reinterred in a family grave.

A faculty was granted for exhumation of a body from one part of a cemetery, where it had been interred contrary to the wishes of the deceased's wife, and reinterment near other family graves in the same cemetery. The Chancellor found that there had been "an error in administration", which justified him in granting a faculty.

Owing to a mistake by a firm of undertakers, they had failed to comply with the instructions of the petitioner that the bulk of his mother's cremated remains should be interred in the cemetery, but that a small proportion of the ashes should be retained so that they could be symbolically scattered in accordance with the deceased's expressed wishes. The family discovered shortly after the funeral that the whole of the cremated remains had been interred. The Chancellor decided that the circumstances of the petition fitted within the legal exceptions to the doctrine of permanence and accordingly granted a faculty to allow the cremated remains to be exhumed, a portion of the ashes to be taken for scattering, and the remainder of the ashes to be reinterred in the grave plot.

The petitioner wished to have her mother's cremated remains exhumed from Bromsgrove Cemetery and scattered elsewhere with the cremated remains of the petitioner's father. The petition was unopposed, but the petitioner requested a hearing. Since the interment of the petitioner's mother's ashes, her father had always regretted acting in haste upon his wife's death and had wished that his and his wife's ashes could have been scattered together, especially as his wife had not wished to be buried in consecrated ground, neither having religious beliefs. The Chancellor granted a faculty. The petitioner's father had made a mistake as to wishes of his wife with respect to her burial. The Chancellor was satisfied that no precedent would be set by his decision. In fact a previous judgment on the same basis had already been made in respect of the same cemetery.

The petitioner wished to have her husband's ashes exhumed from the cemetery, to enable them to be scattered. The petitioner had been experiencing guilt that she had had her husband's ashes interred, when he had expressed a wish to have his ashes scattered. The Chancellor found that this fact, and the fact that the petitioner had not been informed by the burial authority that the interment was to be in consecrated ground (which would result in difficulties if an application were to be made subsequently for exhumation), together constituted circumstances sufficient to justify the grant of a faculty.