Worcester Consistory Court: Mynors Dep Ch, September 1998
Four petitions were considered, each concerning the reservation of a grave space in a churchyard in which there was sufficient space for burials for approximately five years. Mindful that this scenario was becoming more frequent within the diocese and beyond, the deputy chancellor set out broad guidelines to assist with future applications. The general principle was that these petitions require careful scrutiny since reservation deprives the incumbent of his absolute right to determine where in a churchyard any given burial should take place and the right of all those on the church electoral roll or resident within the ecclesiastical parish to be buried in the churchyard so long as space remains available. He stated:
- That applications for a faculty should be accompanied by (a) a statement from the incumbent giving the likely future capacity of the churchyard; and (b) evidence of support for the application by the incumbent and the PCC, the latter being on behalf of present and future parishioners.
- That where a number of petitions are likely, the parish should have in place a policy as to the principles on which support will be given or withheld. These include the extent of any link of the person concerned with (a) the church as a worshipping community; (b) the churchyard, for example close relatives buried there; and (c) the town or village concerned. Any compelling pastoral or other circumstances should also be considered.
- That thought should be given to dioceses preparing standard policies which could be adopted (with or without amendment) by parishes.
- That in the absence of compelling reasons to the contrary every faculty for the reservation of a grave space should be expressed to endure for not more than twenty-five years or until further order.
- That faculties should generally be granted on condition (a) that the right reserved is marked and endorsed on an up-to-date churchyard plan; and (b) that the space reserved is physically marked on the ground in some small and discreet way.
Reference was made to Re St Luke's, Holbeach Hum  2 All ER 749,  lWLR16,ConsCt.
Note: A number of chancellors require a payment to be made to the churchyard maintenance fund as a condition to the grant of a faculty for the reservation of a grave space.
(1999) 5 Ecc LJ 216-217