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Remains will stay in ‘bleak’ cemetery

09 November 2012

A FAMILY's desire to have their father's remains exhumed from a cemetery that was "a bleak and dangerous place to visit", and reburied in a different cemetery, was not a sufficiently special circumstance to justify the making of an exception to the norm that Christian burial was final, Chancellor Geoffrey Tattersall QC ruled in the Consistory Court of the diocese of Manchester.

The petition for a faculty for exhumation was brought by Sylvia Hill. She is the foster-daughter of John Albert Corry, who died in 1993, and his wife, Elizabeth Corry, who died in 2011. The petition was supported by Mrs Hill's adopted siblings, and sought authority for the exhumation of Mr Corry's remains from Southern Cemetery, Manchester, for re-interment in the same grave as his wife in Mill Lane Cemetery, Stockport.

Mrs Hill said that, at the time of Mr Corry's death, his wife was upset that he could not be buried at Stockport Borough Cemetery, which had closed for burials, and so she agreed to his burial at Southern Cemetery. Mrs Corry felt unsafe, however, when visiting her husband's grave. She said that it was not "a restful place for anybody to go and pay their respects to a loved one".

The Chancellor said that he could not grant the faculty for exhumation on the narrow basis of a mistake. It was not a mistake in the administration of the interment, such as interment in the wrong grave, or lack of knowledge that the interment was in Christian consecrated ground.

It was 19 years since Mr Corry's death, and, for more than 17 years, no contemplation was given to the possibility of an exhumation. Before Mrs Corry's death, no indication had been given by anyone concerning the prospects of success of an application to exhume Mr Corry's remains. So it could not fairly be said that Mrs Corry was buried at Mill Lane Cemetery in any real expectation that Mr Corry's remains would be exhumed and re-interred with hers.

The faculty was refused.


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