The Church of England regards the interment of human remains in consecrated ground to be a dedication of the remains and that person to God. As such the Church considers that those remains should be left undisturbed and a presumption in law, based on this theology, has arisen that a Faculty will not be granted to authorise an exhumation unless exceptional circumstances arise, for example, where a burial has taken place in a grave already reserved by Faculty for someone else. It is up to the Chancellor of the Diocese to consider whether these circumstances justify a departure from the general rule.
For the exhumation and reinterment of a body or cremated remains, it will be necessary to obtain a Faculty from the Chancellor of the Diocese, or an Exhumation Licence from the Ministry of Justice. If the remains are to be exhumed from consecrated ground, only a Faculty is required. If the remains are to be exhumed from unconsecrated ground, only a Licence from the Ministry of Justice is necessary.
Enquiries about obtaining an Exhumation Licence from the Ministry of Justice should be addressed to:
Coroners, Burials, Cremation and Inquiries Team
Ministry of Justice
102 Petty France
The fee payable on lodging a Faculty Petition for exhumation is the normal Faculty fee, as specified under Fees.