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exhumation pensioner Norfolk church yard

Pensioner failed to get exhumation order on the grounds of access

A pensioner from Norfolk has failed in her attempt to get the ashes of her mother exhumed. She had partitioned the Church of England’s Consistory Court but to no avail.

Mrs Queenie Ivy Gooch wanted the ashes of her mother moved from the Churchyard in Gunton to the nearby Kirkley Cemtery so that she could pay her respects. She is unable to visit as she is wheel-chair bound. However the court said no.

This may seem like a tough ruling and one has every sympathy for Mrs Gooch. The law around exhumation is strict and a last resting place must be exactly that unless there are exceptional circumstances. And the court deemed that in this case there wasn’t.

And the fact that vicar of St Peter’s had not objected was not enough.

In giving the judgement Chancellor Arlow said : “It is clear that the inability to access her mother’s grave causes Mrs Gooch real distress and it is for this reason that she wishes to exhume her mother’s remains and reinter them in Kirkley Cemetery.

“I know that this will cause real upset to Mrs Gooch and have great sympathy for her but I am unable to find a proper justification for this exhumation.

She said that if the advancing of years and its consequent limitations of mobility were to be sufficient reason for an exhumation then this could lead to a flood of similar applications and unacceptable inroads into the principle that once a person’s remains have been buried the burial is meant to be permanent.

Mrs Gooch had hoped to have her ashes buried alongside her husband and her mother to be reinterred next to her.

So it is down to principle and whilst I am not a fan of “It will open the flood gates…. What will happen next” I can see that the court is in a very difficult position. And the hurt caused to an individual must be balanced against wider precedents.

It is just very sad for the lady involved.


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