Ecclesiastical Law Association

Ecclesiastical Law Association

Judgments: Graves

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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, who were husband and wife, applied to reserve a double depth grave in the churchyard. The petitioners were not residents of the parish, but were on the church electoral roll. Several parishioners objected to the reservation, claiming a widespread view that there had been a policy against reservation of graves agreed by the Parochial Church Council many years ago. The Chancellor found that in 1999 the PCC had agreed on a policy regarding the burial of persons who did not live in the parish, but the policy did not cover the reservation of graves. He accordingly granted a faculty.

A body had been interred in a grave reserved for someone else. The family which had reserved the grave applied for a faculty for exhumation of the body wrongly placed in the reserved grave. One of the two people for whom the grave was reserved was terminally ill. The Chancellor granted the faculty on the basis that there had been a genuine administrative error, which led to the interment in the grave already reserved.