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digging up ashes

Council mix-up: an exhumation because an ashes burial plot was sold to two people!

Jennifer Phillips bought a plot in Welton Road Cemetery, Daventry, Northamptonshire back in 1987 so that when the time came she and her husband could be buried next to her parents.

However, on a visit her parents grave she noticed a small wooden cross on the plot that she owned. It transpires that the council, through bad records management, had sold the plot again to a Mrs Ducker do she could bury her mother there.

The whole sorry mess had to be sorted out by Mr David Pittaway QC, chancellor of the diocese of Peterborough. He ruled that the remains of Mrs Sandra Cleaver (Mrs Ducker mother) needed to be exhumed and buried elsewhere. He decided it would be detrimental for Mrs Phillips to continue to visit her mother’s grave and see the grave where she was meant to be buried with someone else in it. And said that if the exhumation did not take place the two families could end up visiting their relatives at the same time, which could cause “unnecessary stress and distress”.

He went onto say “Mrs Phillips refers in her witness statement to this having occurred on two occasions already, on one of which Mrs Ducker’s family held themselves back whilst the other family was at the grave,” he said.

He added: “If I were to permit Mrs Cleaver’s cremated remains to remain and, in due course a memorial was erected, there would be a permanent reminder to Mrs Phillips every time she visited her parents’ grave that she would have been buried in plot A239 but for the Council’s mistake.

“Moreover, she would go to her grave in the knowledge that her long expressed wish to be buried behind her parents’ grave had been frustrated.”

He made a point that “several errors surrounding the Council’s attempts to remedy the situation, which could, with more care, have been avoided.

“For example, amongst others, the original letter to Mrs Ducker specified the wrong plot number and the alternative plot offered was not available.”.

Now that is bad enough, but what happened was that both families thought that they needed to significant legal representation to put their case across. The council had said it would pay up £1500 to cover the costs of any written submission, but the both ended up being represented in court at the hearing by QCs causing a significant escalation in costs. Which the council thought was unnecessary, and therefore they do not wish to liable for this increase in costs.

It would appear that Mr Pittaway was leaning towards the families he said the council needed to “show cause as to why they should not pay the other parties’ costs”. Which the council have since submitted. A spokesman for Daventry District Council said “We are very sorry for the distress our mistake has caused and we have offered our most sincere apologies to both of the families involved.

“It is deeply regrettable that a recording error made by the Council in the mid-1980s has led to two families having conflicting rights over one grave, and we will fully comply with the consistory court’s judgement.

“In recognition of our error, the Council offered to fund the legal costs of both families up to £1,500, which would have been sufficient for a court decision based on written representations.

“With a full hearing sought, we understand both families have incurred higher legal costs, and we await the decision of the court as to how those additional costs should be met.”

Oh my, what a mess, poor families. The question is should the families pay the extra money? A can see the councils point of view: it could have been settled by written submissions so why should they be liable if the families choose to spend a greater amount, surely that it up to them. However, I find myself leaning the other way. The council were wholly responsible for this and the significant upset this has caused. It is not unsurprising that the family would want to all within their power to argue the best possible case and yes this was their choice to do so, but they did not create the mess in the first place. And whilst it should not be an overriding factor of three parties the council has the resources to sort this out. Anyway, perhaps that is just me that thinks like that.


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exhumation church of england

Church of England rules on Exhumation of Ashes: what are Exceptional Circumstances

The Church of England considers the burial of ashes final. To get ashes removed from consecrated land is difficult if not impossible, you will need to demonstrate exceptional circumstances and navigate the very formal language used by the church.

Set out below is what you need to know.

You would need to get permission (known as a Faculty) from the Chancellor of the Diocese (who is the legal part of the church), they would look at a number of factors in making a decision. Basically there needs to be exceptional circumstances.

What might be considered exceptional:

  • A mistake – for example if someone was buried in the wrong plot or if the person was buried on consecrated ground but was not of the christian faith (such as a buddhist), it is not enough to say they were lapsed.
  • Family Grave – this could be grounds for exhumation if there was a family plot in existence and it was the intention that the family should all be there.

What would not be considered exceptional i.e. if something could have been reasonably foreseen:

  • Change of mind, if you have had a change of heart and want them elsewhere.
  • Deteriorating health for example if a surviving spouse wishes to move to be with relatives and wishes to take the ashes with them.

Other factors:

  • Setting a precedent. The court would be very warery about setting a precedent that undermines the general presumption against exhumation.
  • Time, generally speaking the longer the ashes have been buried the more difficult there are to have exhumed.
  • Support, you would need the agreement of close relatives. However support from the wider community including friends or members of the clergy would normally be disregarded.

So if you think you have grounds for exhumation you will need get a special form of Faculty Petition which used for an application for exhumation, these are obtained from Diocesan Registrar. A Diocesan Registrar is held at the Diocesan office (the diocese is name for an area of land under the jurisdiction of the local bishop – the rector or cemetery manager should be point you in the right direction or you can have a look at this map of the different diocese in England , or go to Diocesan Registry)

More resources:

  • Here is a list of case studies and examples of what constitutes ‘exceptional circumstances’ (and what does not) – exhumation.
  • The law relating  to exhumation is set out in the leading case of (this note has been put together by the diocese of Norwich) Blagdon Cemetery [2002] Court of Arches,

Church of England: Exhumation of Ashes

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Cemetery error deemed exceptional in exhumation case

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.”


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exhumation ashes

Family ashes plots a way to persuade the church to allow exhumation?

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.



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cremation ashes exhume

Exhumation granted due to proximity to footpath

As you may have seen from other posts I try and highlight as many examples of formal exhumation for Church of England cemeteries as possible so I can give you an idea of what constitutes exceptional circumstances as possible. If you are not aware exceptional circumstances are the criteria the Church of England puts in place if you wish to exhume ashes.

This particular case is interesting, as it the first one I have come across that related to proximately to a footpath.

The ashes of Alan Llewellin were mistakenly buried alongside a public footpath in Holy Cross church yard in the north Wiltshire village of Sherston. There were concerns raised that if the planned memorial stone for Mr Llewellin was installed there was a potential hazard and that the public could damage it whilst walking over it.

Justin Gau, chancellor of the Diocese of Bristol and a judge of the Church of England’s Consistory Court, accepted the application and has granted permission for the ashes to be moved to another part of the church yard.

Chancellor Gau said he considered the circumstances in this case were sufficiently exceptional to allow him to side-step the normal procedure.

He said that although Christian doctrine firmly established that a Christian burial was meant to be permanent, there were exceptional circumstances which could pave the way for the Consistory Court to grant permission for exhumation.

He continued: “I accept in the highly unusual circumstances of this case that a genuine mistake was made in the siting of the original space.

“It was a mistake made with the best intentions and no one is at fault here. I am prepared to grant this faculty for the exhumation and re-interment of Mr Llewellin’s ashes.”

So well done to Me Llewellin’s daughter, Jayne Henderson who brought the application. This is another to add to our list.

Original story


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Mar Thoma Syrian Church cremation

Mar Thoma Syrian Church – Cremation is now allowed

The various religions in the world is a constant source of wonder to me. The various sects seems never ending, here is a new one on me, the Mar Thoma Syrian Church – never heard of it? It has over a million followers. Although as religions go this fairly unique. It is a Syrian Christian church in the state of Kerala, India. That traces its origins to the missionary activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century. The church defines itself as “Apostolic in origin, Universal in nature, Biblical in faith, Evangelical in principle, Ecumenical in outlook, Oriental in worship, Democratic in function, and Episcopal in character”. That is a great description!

Anyway it has given permission for its clergy to be cremated. Which might not seem that big a deal, but for Churches to change that attitude towards such issues, changing millennia of precedent it is a big deal.

What is interesting it perhaps where and what rationale they have given for allowing the change.

In a circular issued to all parishes of the Church: “The Metropolitan/Episcopa reserves the right to permit the cremation of the mortal remains of the clergy either in an electric crematorium or otherwise on the basis of a prior request by the clergy,”

It added: “This could be permitted only after the burial service is completed at the parish.” “The mortal remains after cremation must be buried in either the family vault or single vault,”

Why has it chosen to make this significant step? Because of the limited space in cities.

Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma explained:  “Today many are moving to cities from villages, this includes clergymen. Sometimes we face lots of problems to provide space for all for a burial in city parishes.”

The rationale for the change of heart came from Joseph Mar Barnabas Episcopa, Thiruvananthapuram diocesan bishop of the Church: “There was a belief among Christians earlier that body should not be cremated as it has to be resurrected. This thinking is changing today. God can bring back life even if it becomes ashes. The Church is leaning towards to this ancient concept of Hindu culture.”

So that’s okay then.

Original story

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exhume ashes oxford

A change of mind is not a good enough reason

Seeking to exhume a loved one’s ashes is difficult when they are buried on Church land, you will need to apply to the Consistory Court of the diocese and demonstrate: exceptional circumstance.

On the blog we like to report any case we come across so that you can get a better pictures as to what the Court needs to grant an application.

Mrs Tollis submitted a petition to have her husbands remains exhumed from a churchyard in Oxfordshire. Mrs Tollis, a practising Roman Catholic, was left to determine her husband’s resting place: who passed away in 2013. He did not express an opinion and was not religious. So with the approval of the family she chose to inter in the local churchyard – St Peter’s, Wootton, Boars Hill in Oxford.

However, Mrs Tollis said she “came to realise quite quickly that [she] had made a serious error of judgement”, on deeper reflection she considered Antibes, in France, would be a more appropriate as this is where he had spent a greater part of his life and felt very attached too.

Mr Tollis thought that she had superimposed her own religious belief over the top of her husband’s religious indifference. She said she had an “acute and distressing feeling of incompletion, and a very real need to have a sadly mistaken decision put right”.

Unfortunately, although there was sympathy for Mrs Tollis’ plight (whose application was supported by the Priest and family) the court felt they had to follow precedent and rejected the application. The Chancellor of Oxford, the Revd Alexander McGregor, said that he was legally bound to follow the principles of law governing exhumation issued by the Court of Arches in the Blagdon Cemetery case ([2002] Fam 299).

The court reported that although Mrs Tollis found herself in a stressful situation, and had serious concerns about the choice she made in 2014, her state of mind did not approach the “serious psychiatric or psychological problems”, where there was medical evidence demonstrating a link with the location of the grave.

And, although Mr Tollis had had strong connections with Antibes, he had not expressed any particular wishes about the place where he should be buried. It was not, therefore, a case where the wishes of a deceased had not been complied with, and where a family were trying to put matters right, the Chancellor said.

Mr Tollis was not a practising Christian, and, therefore, St Peter’s churchyard may not have had any particular significance for him; but there was no evidence that he would have objected to being buried there, and Mrs Tollis’s decision to inter his remains there could not be criticised.

The Chancellor said that this case could not be distinguished from what the Court of Arches categorised as a change of mind on the part of those responsible for the interment.

So a change of mind does not count, these sad case will continue to crop up, the Church is unlikely to change precedent on this for many years if at all. Our advise is: take your time before you decide – there is no rush.

Original story:


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ashes exhumation lincolnshire

Is the Church of England softening its stance on exhumation of ashes?

We feedback any reports we come across in the press on exhumation of ashes, we do this so you can start to understand the stance and precedents set by the Church of England.  We hope to help you in deciding whether your case may be considered worthy enough to meet the CoE’s stance of ‘exceptional circumstance’. Recently a lady wanted the ashes moving as she was no longer able to access her husband’s grave due to infirmity and in another where a lady was moving closer to her children and wanted to have her husband ashes reburied closer to her new abode. Both cases we rejected. The position put for by the Chancellor of the Diocese as judge of the Church of England’s Consistory Court,  (the person responsible for deciding) stated that in both cases these circumstances could have been reasonably foreseen.

However a recent case involving a 92 year old widow in Lincolnshire there appears, from the outside at least, to be slightly milder in its approach taken.

Italian-born Mrs Glover sought permission to exhume the ashes of her late husband who died in 1990, so that they could be taken to the family mausoleum at Bisceglie, Puglia, in the southern Italy. This is where she intends her ashes to be placed.

The argument for her request was centred around the fact that when she dies there will be no-one left in England left to care for the grave yet in Italy the family will continue to tend the mausoleum there.

The Chancellor, slightly ironically called Mr Bishop, said: “The principle of permanence can only be departed from if there are special circumstances which justify an exception to the principle that Mr Glover was laid to rest in 1991 and his remains should not now be disturbed.”

He went on to say: “I am satisfied that this is one of those exceptional cases where I can authorise the exhumation of the cremated remains so that they may be reinterred in the family grave in Italy.

“I accept that Mrs Glover is concerned about what will happen to her husband’s plot, and her own, after she has passed away. I am sure that that Mr and Mrs Glover’s graves would be properly cared for in those circumstances by the [council] ensuring that the churchyard was tended, but I recognise the distress she feels about no family member being around to care for their plots and visit the graves.”

He added: “I wish Mrs Glover well.” A nice touch I thought.

I am pleased for Mrs Glover, although I am surprised as one might have expected the ‘reasonably foreseen’ argument trotted out. And whilst we should not see graves as the soil based equivalent of a gym locker, I think it is good to see the Church relaxing their stance in this instance. Personally I think the church foremost principle for compassion is right to take precedent here – well done Mr Bishop and the CofE.

Original article

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MoJ exhumation ashes

The Ministry of Justice response to our question on exhumation of ashes

This was our enquiry:


Since the recent interest in exhumation articles in various national papers, I am trying to clarify a couple of things

The MoJ gets around 25 applications per week for exhumation what is the percentage spilt (roughly) between whole body / standard burial and burial of cremated remains?

As I understand it, the Justice Secretary or the Church of England if from consecrated ground give the authority. So is it the churches decision on consecrated even if they don’t own it eg a council cemetery? And the Justice Secretary on non consecrated (do they apply the same test as the church).

Many thanks



This was their response:


Dear Mr Martin,

Thank you for your emails of 4 August and 4 September, in which you asked for the following information from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ): “The MoJ gets around 25 applications per week for exhumation what is the percentage spilt (roughly) between whole body / standard burial and burial of cremated remains?

As I understand it, the Justice Secretary or the Church of England if from consecrated ground give the authority. So is it the churches decision on consecrated even if they don’t own it eg a council cemetery? And the Justice Secretary on non consecrated (do they apply the same test as the church).” The first part of your request has been handled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

I can confirm that the department holds the information that you have asked for and I am pleased to provide this to you.  The Secretary of State for Justice grants licences for exhumation of buried human remains under section 25 of the Burial Act 1857 (as amended).  In 2013, 14% of all such licences were for non-cremated remains.  Again in 2014, 14% of all such licences were for non-cremated remains. You can find more information about the FOIA by reading the full text (available at

Responses are anonymised and published on our on-line disclosure log which can be found on the MoJ website:

I am answering the second part of your request outside of the FOIA, on a discretionary basis. Section 25 of the Burial Act 1857 (as amended) requires exhumation to be authorised by either the Secretary of State or the Church of England, depending on the location of the remains. Exhumation from land which is subject to the Church of England’s jurisdiction needs the Church’s authorisation (the granting of a faculty or the approval of a proposal under the Care of Cathedrals Measure 2011). This includes exhumation from any section of a local authority cemetery which has been consecrated by the Church of England. Exhumation from land which is not subject to the Church of England’s jurisdiction needs a licence from the Secretary of State. Each application for a licence is considered on its own merits. We are unable to answer on the Church of England’s requirements for granting a faculty. I hope this information is helpful. Yours sincerely,


So the MoJ score way better than the MoD, on the down side it took asking the question three times and I needed to resort to a FOI. However the answer that came back was pretty good and offered more information than was legally necessary. So they get a Scattering score of 6.5

MoJ exhumation ashes

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coe exhumation

Exhumation is getting the Church hot under the (dog) collar

It seems the national paper picked up on the case of Mrs Gooch, who wanted her mums cremated remains moved as she could not access the grave as she was wheelchair bound. The church refused as it was not exceptional circumstances.

The Sunday Express, the Guardian and the Telegraph all picked up on this growing trend.

Under the Burial Act 1857, someone’s remains can only be exhumed on the authority of the Justice Secretary or the Church of England if it is from consecrated ground.

In order to do this, one must to fill out a 12-page Ministry of Justice application form that includes the written agreement of whoever is in charge of the “cemetery, churchyard or crematorium where the remains are to be reburied or cremated”.  These applications are then normally decided within twenty days.

The Ministry of Justice receives around twenty-five of these applications per week to exhume buried human remains.

The church does not like this at all, a spokesman from for the clergy said: “The permanent burial of the physical body, or the burial of cremated remains, should be seen as a symbol of our entrusting the person to God for resurrection.

“This commending, entrusting, resting in peace does not sit easily with ‘portable remains’, which suggests the opposite, a holding onto the “symbol” of a human life rather than a giving back to God.

The Church suggested that the relocation of remains for reasons of convenience has become “almost a fashion”. ARRRGGGGHHH I do wish the church would not speak like that, people will have thought long and hard about this is, there is significant effort involved here and it is certainly traumatic, to reduce it to a flippant statement like that is patronising and misses the point of why they are trying to do this: It is because they loved that person so much that that being separated from their last resting place is distressing. The appellant is probably not up on the finer points of scripture and may well be Christian but in a different sense to the learned clergy, which is no less strongly felt. They may consider the words spoken as a metaphor and not so final.

The article went on to report that the Ecclesiastical Judges Association, comprised of diocesan chancellors who determine exhumation requests, said there was an increasing belief that “exhumation on demand” was acceptable as burial had lost its “religious and moral significance”. I can understand the point about religious significance, but to tack on moral at the end is unnecessary, it implies that theirs is the moral ‘right’ which is nonsense. I love genuinely the Church of England, but they do make cross with this sorted conceited, high-handed drivel. It is fine to set your precedent and stick to it and yes ignorance is no defence, but please do not question peoples morals in decision making process, if anything is morally wrong it is that!

Phew…right, I have calmed down now. It would appear Local authority seem to take a more relaxed view. A spokesperson for Brompton cemetery in west London said: “If a family wants to exhume the remains of a relative then obviously we try to help as much as possible.” Other council-run services confirmed this approach. Their duty is to who owns the plot. Which I personally think is more laudable, but then I am not ordained – so what would I know about morals.


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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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serviced columbarium

Columbarium – coming to a Parish Church near you!

Modern takes on the concept of Columbaria are springing up in a number of places from the Long Barrow in All Canning in Wiltshire to the Secure Haven (one rented by the day) in Essex.

However these are away from traditional places of worship and there a members of society who feel a very deep connection with their parish church and would wish to be interred there. The problem is many of parish churches have run out of land in which to bury person or ashes and have to turn people away.

Now there is a company operating from the ancient Isle of Anglesey that are aiming to solve this problem and help the local church as a result.

Gulzar Columbariums based in Bodorgan,  Anglesey are looking to install their deign of indoor glass and wood columbaria within church premises. The design is simple and the glass frontage for more memorabilia such an s pictures to be placed on display to increase the memorialisation through connection to more familiar items, as opposed to a carved doors or edifices.

The advantage for the parish church is that they will plan, install and manage the columbarium- yet provide the church with a source of revenue form the leasing of the niches. This all appears to be a win win – the church is able to

help it congregation, the congregation are able to keep a connection with their church and the church has another income stream to maintain the building….

Here they are

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London ashes soptions

St Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield, City of London

The Columbarium

Soon you be able to inter your ashes in one of London’s oldest churches St Bartholomew the Great in West Smithfield 

They are awaiting enough reservations to then commission it. The niche columbarium.

The niche system, will include decorative coloured stone plinths, that will compliment the design of the church. It will comprise 196 niche chambers with an option for two internments in each niche.

It will be possible to lease the niche for a period of 10 years or 20 years with an additional charge for a second interment.


The Columbarium will be located in the Churchyard by the South Vestry and will be accessible through the Lady Chapel.

The pricing structure will be as follows:

10 years: £1,500
20 years: £2,750

In order to register interest at this stage:

Pay £200 now (refundable on the unlikely event of the project not going ahead) and a further £300 on initiation of the project. You can then choose from the following two options:

  • Option a: Pay full £1,000 and secure 10 years from date of payment, or pay £2,250 to secure 20 year lease.
  • Option b: Pay £100 per annum until time of interment. Then pay £1,000/£2,250 and secure 10/20 years from interment.

These prices do not include the cost of inscription and interment, and are subject to inflation.

How the niche system works:

The ashes will be placed in a casket which, in turn, will be inserted into the niche. There will be an option for a service at the time of interment, giving friends and family the opportunity to be present.

An inscribed tablet will seal the niche chamber. The tablet will be provided by Welters and they will liaise directly with the client regarding wording and layout.

Most of the above is a direct copy from their website –

I like columbarium as an option, particularly ones in places so wonderfully historic, and it provides a good source of income for the church too. Twenty years seems fair – but what then? do they trace the next of kin and arrive at the door with a parcel? Or do they take it upon themselves to scatter in the grounds?


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creamtion ashes dumped

Ashes dumped in Hampshire cemetery: fee dodging?

creamtion ashes dumped

The Vicar of the charming village of Lyndhurst in Hampshire has got hot under the collar. The Rev Dr James Bruce spoke out after it was revealed that the ashes, of what appeared several people, had been tipped onto the grass at the graveyard near his church.

The ashes were discovered by a maintenance worker, and it was reported that the amount was comparable with someone emptying a fireplace.

The cemetery is under the jurisdiction of parish council. The Council require that anyone wishing to scatter ashes there must register them with them and pay a £115 fee.

The vicar said: “As a vicar it’s distressing to hear that human ashes have been unceremoniously dumped without any proper respect being shown for the deceased.”

Mrs Weston the councils representative responsible for such matters told councillors: “To my mind it’s incredibly irreverent. It’s the last thing you do for a person, and yet these ashes have just been dumped there.”

Council chairman Mark Colle added: “It’s like they’re emptying a fireplace – that’s what it sounds like. It’s ridiculous.”

Cllr George Bisson claimed it seemed to be a case of someone saying: “I’m not burying someone, I’m just scattering their ashes, so I can do it where I want.”

Speaking after the meeting Cllr Rolle said: “It was the sheer volume of ashes that caused such disquiet.

“We’ve put a lot of time and energy into mapping the cemetery so that anyone trying to find lost relatives can discover who is where.

“We welcome people leaving ashes but they must go through the proper channels.

“Maybe they didn’t know there was a process to be gone through. I’d hate to think they were just trying to dodge a fee.”

So what have the council agreed to do to stop this from occurring again? Install another notice highlighting the rules. Well that should work.

Lets be honest they are pretty powerless if someone chooses to do this and a sign is likely to make no difference what so ever.

True it is anti social, but is it that bad? The ashes were scattered where ashes were supposed to go (the cemetery), the main difference is that they dodged to £115 fee. One might presume that the fee was the motive, but who knows the persons financial situation or whether it was the deceased wishes? I wonder if the council makes provision for those less well off, after all this is just an administrative fee, with no significant outlay. Am I being too soft on antisocial behaviour? Maybe, but it is not something I am generally accused of.

As for the quantity scattered potentially representing more than one person. Well I have an open fire place and would suggest that the ashes removed from that would equate to about one persons (roughly), but then you would expect the vicar to know this?

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ashes west sussex exhumation

A lady bell ringer fails in her attempt to move her parents ashes closer

ashes west sussex exhumation

A lady bell-ringer from Northchapel a village in West Sussex,  who wished to exhume and relocate her parents ashes to bring them closer, has had her appeal been rejected.

The chancellor of the diocese of Chichester and a judge of the Church of England’s Consistory Court, refused Mrs Lacey’s request to move her parents ashes from a cemetery in Battle and so make it more convenient for her to visit.

She wrote: “For me to have them [my parents’ ashes] near would mean that I had a little bit of my brother, father and mother. I think I had never been able to really grieve for them.”

However the judge said: “I can find nothing pointing to a special or exceptional circumstance. Her application is founded on the sincere wish to have the remains of those she loves and still grieves closer to where she lives.”

He added: “Exhumation for sentiment or convenience or to hang on to the remains of life is a denial of the Christian intention of burial.

“Mrs Lacey must therefore bear her grief with fortitude, knowing her parents’ remains are to lie together undisturbed where they were committed to God’s keeping.”

As we have written on a few occasions – exceptional circumstances are required to depart from the rule that, the last resting place is the last resting place .

Importantly here it has been made clear that Mrs Lacy has to pay the courts as well as her own.

What I find sad is that no one had advised Mrs Lacy this was bad course of action, not only causing her more anxiety, but a significant expense too! I suppose it could have been that Mrs Lacy was prepared to try anything to fulfill her wish, but still it would appear a forgone conclusion.

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ashes exhumation C of E

Exhumation of ashes order not granted: plea not considered to be exceptional

ashes exhumation C of E© Copyright Oast House Archive

Previously we have reported on success stories where a family has managed to secure the approval for exhumation of ashes via the Church of England’s Consistory Court. We had pointed out exhumation orders on church consecrated land were rare. Here is a story from the news website KentOnline about a lady who wished to reunite her father’s ashes putting them in her mother’s grave. The judge refused to give permission as the circumstances were not deemed to be exceptional.

The petition was brought by Mrs Mills the daughter of Mr Morphett who passed away in 2000 aged 82. It was Mrs Mills’ mother wish, who died last December, that they should be together. Whilst the remains of both parents were in St Margaret’s church Horsmonden, they we not on the same plot.  As this was contrary to Mrs Mills mother’s wishes the family sought to move the ashes of their father so they could reside next to their mother.

Ms Mills also raised concerns about the state of the churchyard which appeared to be quite neglected.

poorly kept churchyard© KentOnline

In written submissions, she wrote: “My mother wished to be buried and my dad was cremated in 2000. I desire that they should be together, so that we can pay tributes together in one place.”

Sadly for the family the Chancellor ruled that Mr Morphett’s remains must stay where they are.

He said: “The norm is permanence in relation to Christian burial, and the norm can only be departed from if there are exceptional circumstances made out so as to justify departure from it. The burden of proof is on the petitioner to establish, on the balance of probabilities, exceptional circumstances.”

Ruling that Mrs Mills had failed to do so, he continued: “Distress or upset about the location of the interment of Mr Morphett’s cremated remains is not enough. All concerned knew at the time he was interred and where he was being interred. What thought Mrs Morphett may have given to her own burial and place of rest is unclear.

“Distress or upset about the area surrounding Mr Morphett’s cremated remains is not enough. Equally a desire that one’s parents ‘be together’, though understandable, is not enough.”

He said that when a “mistake” was made that could be regarded as a reason to grant a request for exhumation. But in this case he said that in this case, if there was any mistake, it related to a lack of thought as to what would happen in the future. 

And he added: “That is not enough.”

He continued: “I have little doubt that Mrs Mills and the family will be disappointed by my decision. I hope that in the light of this Judgment greater efforts will be made, where appropriate, to maintain the Churchyard, and I further hope that all concerned will recognise that Mr and Mrs Morphett’s remains are in reality, in close proximity, but that, more importantly, they have both been entrusted to God for resurrection.”

This is indeed sad, although as the judge points out not extraordinary. I suspect what may have happened is that whilst both parents wished to be buried on consecrated ground the father wanted to be cremated and the mother buried. When the father died they bought a small plot suitable for ashes perhaps not considering what would happen when the mother died. As the judge points out “All concerned knew at the time he was interred and where he was being interred. What thought Mrs Morphett may have given to her own burial and place of rest is unclear.”.  I am thinking when the family realised the consequences of this it was really too late. You can’t help but feel sorry for the family, decisions like choosing a grave can be made without the full facts or consideration of the future, in a time of significant distress. One would have hoped a polite word from a concerned party would have been appropriate, but who knows.

One last point that the judge ends on, which is perhaps in part the reason for the principal of exceptional circumstances is that if you are religious then one can draw solace from the fact you can entrust to God the resurrection of the soul, so the location of the body is of less relevance, again please feel free to contradict…

Original story:

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Scattering Ashes biblical reference Psalm 147:16

Scattering Ashes biblical reference Psalm 147:16 – Origins Part IV


Psalm 147:16

Here is how it is written in the King James Bible:

He giveth snow like wool: he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes.

Firstly, in no way do I express to be a translator of the Bible. So sorry to those of you that are, please don’t mind my thoughts they designed not to offend, just to understand.

On the face of it these appear to be similes for types of weather, their metaphorical meaning I would not profess to devise, if one was ever intended.

So what does it mean and what is it telling us?

What can’t work out is – is the Bible saying the verb applies to the ashes as well as the frost? Are ashes scattered or is it just the frost that is scattered? Or to put it another way does the hoarfrost look like ashes or scattered ashes

Additionally, what type of ashes are being referred to, those from a hearth or are they cremated human remains? Why would someone scatter ashes in the first place?

Also the King James version refers to hoarfrost (it appears other more recent bible translations tend to just call it frost), hoarfrost is visually quite distinct from a general frost and is created from protracted crystallisation when the there is high levels of moisture in the air. It is quite beautiful and rare in the UK and even rarer in the Middle East, one would have thought, as you need prolonged periods of constant low temperatures. Personally I see the similarity to frost but not hoarfrost. So is this deliberate, a geographical translation inaccuracy or has language moved in since the King James Bible making hoarfrost more specific?

One last point about it being unlikely to be hoarfrost may supported in the way round the simile is written, with the more common experience being the one that it is being compared too, ie ash is more common than hoarfrost…but is it more come than frost?

In conclusion I think the point being made is – isn’t nature wonderful and one meteorological phenomenon can bear a resemble to something more everyday, and basically isn’t god wonderful for doing this. Anyway that’s my take on it, although more than happy to be corrected by any theologians out there.

There are more translations and some interpretation at this website



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cremation ashes CofE

Cremation Ashes – Church of England’s stance


We contacted the Church of England as one of the country’s biggest land owners and obviously it’s leading religious faith, unsurprisingly this matter is dictated by a Canon and this is what they said:

“So far as the Church of England is concerned, the matter is governed by Canon B 38.4(b) which provides as follows –

The ashes of a cremated body should be reverently disposed of by a minister in a churchyard or other burial ground in … or on an area of land designated by the bishop for the purpose … or at sea.

The ordinary position therefore is that ashes are to be buried.  They may only be scattered if the bishop has designated land for the purpose of the disposal of cremated remains on that land.

We are not in a position to say what land has been so designated.  Individual diocesan registries may be able to assist with such information.”

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