The Hertfordshire Mercury reports on an unusual decision in Britain last week by a Church of England Consistory Court.  In In re Chestnut Cemetery (No. 1) re Exhumation of Hugill, (Consist. Ct., July 18, 2018), the Court permitted the exhumation of the cremated remains of an infant buried in 1982 in a Church of England cemetery.  The infant’s parents are both Atheists, and they did not know at the time of the burial that the cemetery site was hallowed ground. They discovered this in 2017 and now seek to have the remains reburied in an un-consecrated plot. The court said in part:The starting point is the presumption that the burial of human remains in consecrated ground is permanent…. However the Court has a discretion to permit exhumation in exceptional circumstances….On the case that has been presented to me it appears that the most important and relevant of the factors referred to above is mistake. In particular, Mrs Wilson’s evidence that she was at all material times, until on or around September 2017, unaware that Lizzie’s remains had been interred in consecrated ground by reason of her total (and understandable) lack of contact with the funeral arrangements when they were made, and her evidence that, as an Atheist, the burial in these circumstances is something she would never have agreed to if she had been informed. These facts, in my judgment, amount to a fundamental mistake as to the arrangements made for the interment of Lizzie’s remains.



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