Tom Sharpe burial no longer “Blott on the (ecclesiastical) Landscape”

Consistory court sorts out irregular features of the burial of some of Tom Sharpe’s ashes – but what next?

In our post of 15 June 2014 we commented on the Ascension Edition of the Ecclesiastical Law Society’s Newsletter Gospel and Law which included some “tests of problem-solving skills by way of fun and exercise for the little grey cells” for its younger members about to embark on the forthcoming exam season. We suggested that to these, which “may bear some but limited connection to real situations”, might be added the following recent problem, yet to be resolved:

Unauthorized Burial

In fulfilment of his wishes, the long-term partner of a popular, well-known author [Tom Sharpe] made an unauthorized burial of his ashes, in the same Northumberland cemetery as his father is laid to rest. The ashes were buried in a small hole dug by hand, and the spot was marked by a bottle of whisky, a cigar and his favourite pen”,

and suggested that the legal, pastoral and media issues needed to be addressed; we also provided links to media reports: the Church Times (£) and the Daily Mail, here and here. The former has now come before the ecclesiastical courts and is reported in the judgment Re St Aidan Thockrington [2016] ECC New 1. The Newcastle Chronicle carries additional reporting and photographs.  Continue reading