At Scattering Ashes we report on as many exhumation cases as we hear about so we can pass the learning onto you.
Without wishing to repeat myself, getting permission for exhumation of ashes from consecrated ground is difficult: it must be exceptional circumstances – here is our main page on exhumation of the subject, here are the other examples of cases we have found.
Here is a case from Kent (Greatness Parr Cemetery). The ashes of Mr Barder were interred at the cemetery, with the intention of his wife being buried with him when the time came. Unfortunately, Mr Barbers ashes were only buried two feet down preventing Mrs Barbers ashes being placed on top (under the law Mr Barbers could not be removed so the plot could be dug deeper as this would be disturbing the ashes).
So as a solution the family bought a plot, placed Mrs Barbers ashes in there and applied to have Mr Barber’s ashes transferred to the new plot.
The family were able show the court a photograph of the memorial stone put over Mr Barber’s remains that had a space had been left for his wife’s name to be added.
They won the case. John Gallagher, Chancellor of the Diocese of Rochester, in his role as a judge of the Church of England’s Consistory Court has over-ridden the normal rules and held that the circumstances in this case are exceptional.
He said: “The Court can only depart from the principle of permanence if the petitioners can establish special circumstances to allow an exception to that principle.”
He went on to say that the mistake was the result of the cemetery not informing Mrs Barber at the time that they had buried the ashes at a depth that would not allow her ashes to be interred above.
He concluded: “In these very particular circumstances I am satisfied that this is a case where I can take an exceptional course, and authorise the exhumation of the cremated remains of the late Mr Barber so that they may be reinterred in the grave plot where the mortal remains of his more recently deceased wife have been interred.”