Parents ashes must not be moved to Northchapel

010892-3_Mid_Northchapel_LA''St Michaels church.
010892-3_Mid_Northchapel_LA''St Michaels church.

A TOP church judge has told a Northchapel bell-ringer to ‘bear her grief with fortitude’ after refusing her permission to exhume the cremated remains of her parents.

Mark Hill QC, chancellor of the diocese of Chichester and a judge of the Church of England’s Consistory Court, refused Carolina Lacey’s request to exhume Patricia and John Lane from a cemetery in Battle and move them to a grave in Northchapel cemetery.

He ruled that, as they were buried in the consecrated part of the Battle cemetery, exceptional circumstances were required to depart from the normal rule that, as far as a Christian burial was concerned a last resting place really is just that.

To allow exhumation would amount to ‘portability’ of human remains which would offend Christian doctrine.

Mrs Lacey’s mother died in 1997, her father died in 2010 and her brother, Michael, died some 11 months later. Her aunt, the last remaining member of her family, died in May, 2011.

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.”

She said she has not lived in Battle since 1978 and when she rang the Northchapel church bells she would also like to ‘visit my family’.

The judge said the normal position was the permanent burial of the physical body or the burial of cremated remains should be seen as a symbol of entrusting the person to God for resurrection, and permission to exhume would ‘only be exceptionally granted’.

He said, having considered all the material: ”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.”

Mr Hill 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.”

He ordered Mrs Lacey to pay the court’s costs.