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 petitioners applied for a faculty to authorise the exhumation of their father's ashes and reinterment in the plot containing the ashes of their mother. The father had died in 2006. His ashes had been buried in the cemetery and a memorial placed over the plot. Space was left for the name of the mother on the memorial. When the mother died in 2017, it was discovered that the father's ashes had been buried only two feet deep, so it was not possible to inter a further casket of ashes in the same plot. The petitioners therefore had their mother's ashes buried at double depth in a nearby plot and applied for a faculty to move their father's ashes to the same plot. The Chancellor decided that this was a case where he could exercise his discretion in allowing exhumation and reinterment, on the basis that the burial authority had made a mistake by failing to make it clear that a further burial in the first plot would not be possible.

The peitioner wished to have the body of her husband exhumed from the cemetery and reinterred in a Roman Catholic cemetery (both were Roman Catholics). She claimed that there had been a mistake in the burial, as the plot was unsuitable, being close to the edge of a five foot drop and it would not support a memorial. The Chancellor stated that this was not a case of 'mistake', so as to justify the grant of a faculty, but he nevertheless granted a faculty for exhumation on the basis of the petitioner not having been made aware of the significance of consecration in accordance with the rites of the Church of England.

The burial authority applied for a faculty for exhumation and reinterment. Owing to a mistake by the authority, some cremated remains had been interred in a plot reserved for someone else, rather than in the plot reserved for the deceased. The Chancellor granted a faculty, following the guidance in Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002] Fam 299 that, "Sometimes genuine mistakes do occur, for example, a burial may take place in the wrong burial plot in a cemetery or in a space reserved for someone else in a churchyard. In such cases it may be those responsible for the cemetery or churchyard who apply for a faculty to exhume the remains from the wrong burial plot or grave. Faculties can in these circumstances readily be granted ..."

The petitioner wished to transfer the mortal remains of his mother from a columbarium niche in a consecrated area of Hampton Cemetery in London to the Isle of Wight, where the petitioner and some other members of the family now lived, for re-interment in a place as yet unidentified, as they felt unable to clean the memorial to the deceased, in view of the distance. The Chancellor found no exceptional reasons which would justify the grant of a faculty.

The petitioner wished to have the cremated remains of his mother moved from one consecrated plot in the cemetery to another consecrated plot in the same cemetery. The reason given for the proposed move was that, due to the proximity of skips to accommodate rubbish, the area next to the grave had become the subject of persistent fly-tipping. The Chancellor was satisfied that photographs of the area indicated "a wholly disrespectful and disgraceful state of affairs." He therefore granted a faculty for exhumatin and reinterment.

The petitioner wished to have the cremated remains of his parents exhumed from a double plot in the consecrated section of Heaton Cemetery and reinterred in another plot in the same consecrated area. The petitioner's reason for the application was that the plot was situated under a tree where birds regularly roosted, and the memorial over the plot had been so affected by bird faeces that it had become unsightly, unhygienic and potentially hazardous to the health of those visiting the grave, placing flowers on it or trying to clean the memorial. The Chancellor determined that the circumstances were sufficiently special to make an exception to the norm of permanence of burial. He therefore granted a faculty.

The petitioner wished to have the cremated remains of her late husband, who died in 2014, exhumed and reinterred in the same cemetery in a plot where her own ashes could also be interred in due course. The petitioner admitted that in 2014 she could have reserved a plot next to her husband's plot, but decided at the time not to do so. Citing the judgments in Re Christ Church Alsager [1998] 3 WLR 1394 and Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002] 3 WLR 603, the Deputy Chancellor determined that there were no special circumstances to override the normal presumption of the permanence of burial, and he therefore declined to grant a faculty.

The petitioner's father had died in 1970 and his ashes had been interred in a casket in Hereford Cemetery. The petitioner's mother had died in 2022 and her ashes had not yet been interred. The petitioner wished to have her father's ashes exhumed so that her mother's ashes could be mingled with her father's ashes and the casket then reinterred, in order to fulfil  her mother's wishes as expressed in a document dated 29 January 2017. The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty. Christian burial should be treated as permanent, and exhumation should not be allowed unless in exceptional circumstances. The petitioner's mother's wish did not amount to exceptional circumstances.

Upon consideration of the principles laid down in Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002], the Acting Chancellor granted a faculty to permit the exhumation of the remains of the petitioners' mother from Hickling Cemetery, in order that the remains might be interred with the remains of the petitioners' father in Whatton-in-the-Vale churchyard: "The combination of the initial mistake as to whether the burial took place in consecrated ground, the intention to re-inter together in a family grave and the unanimous family wishes together create sufficient good and proper reasons for this exceptional order to be made."

The petitioner wished to move the cremated remains of her mother and her brother from one cemetery to another. The Chancellor could identify no exceptional circumstances which could enable him properly to exercise my discretion to grant the Petition and therefore refused it.