I have written on the subject of exhumation of ashes many times because each case is slightly different and it interesting to see the church’s stance. As usually the salient points from the judge get reported.
In case you are not aware, if ashes are buried on consecrated land the decision whether to allow exhumation rests with the Church’s Consistory Court and they historically have taken a firm line that once buried then that is final, unless there are exceptional circumstance, and what constitutes exceptional circumstances is the crux of the issue.
This case an elderly Grantham couple won consent to have their son exhumed from his grave. The couple where becoming frail and unable to visit the grave, but ordinarily this would not be enough to grant an exhumation order as this situation could have been ‘reasonably foreseen’.
Mark Bishop, Chancellor of the Diocese of Lincoln, in his role as a judge of the Church’s Consistory Court has given consent for the ashes of their son to be removed from Castle Bytham Cemetery and re-buried in a plot at Grantham Crematorium.
In his ruling Chancellor Bishop said : “The presumption is that burial of human remains in consecrated ground is permanent.”
He went on to say : “The principle of permanence can only be departed from if there are special circumstances which justify an exception to the principle that Jason was laid to rest in 2002 and his remains should not now be disturbed.”
Concluding: “I am persuaded that this exhumation can be permitted on the exceptional grounds that Mr and Mrs Beecroft wish to have a family grave at Grantham Crematorium. This is one of the exceptions to the principle that Christian burial is permanent.”
I never knew this: Church rules allow for exhumation if one of the reasons for which it is sought is the creation of a family grave.
This is very significant and present a real opportunity to families want to exhume due to reasons of location.