Permanence of Christian burial revisited – I

Is guidance on the permanence of Christian burial in need of review? Part I: Articles 8 & 9 ECHR, churchyard development and family graves

Ardington 02In an earlier post we summarized the Church of England’s approach to the permanence of Christian burial and the application of Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002] Fam 299. We noted that this principle is rigorously upheld in the consistory courts; an examination of the judgments on which we have reported since 2014 [1] indicates that most applications for exhumation have been refused. Nevertheless, there are instances in which the application of Re Blagdon Cemetery raises other issues, and this post examines those relating to: the application of Articles 8 & 9 ECHR; the development of churchyards to permit the reuse of graves;  and, the concept of family graves. A later post will consider: the storage and scattering of cremation ashes; the refusal of petitions relating to portable remains, and circumstances in which there is an objection to exhumation 

The Court of Arches judgment Re Blagdon Cemetery was “greatly assisted by a paper on the ‘Theology of Burial’ from the Right Reverend Christopher Hill”, who was then Bishop of Stafford. An extended form of this paper has provided chancellors with an further source of reference [2]; also pertinent are the pre-Blagdon papers by Rupert Bursell in 1998, “Digging up Exhumation[3], and by  Philip Petchey, “Exhumation Reconsidered” in 2001 [4]. Continue reading