Diocese of Lichfield court to decide on burial mix-up

A Diocese of Lichfield court is set to decide on the next step in a mix-up which saw a man buried in a grave reserved by another family.

The Archdeacon of Walsall is to ask the Consistory Court for the Diocese of Lichfield to decide how the mix-up at a Walsall Wood churchyard should be resolved.

In November the body of Daniel Hastelow was buried in a grave plot which had been reserved by the widow of the man buried in the adjacent grave.  Michael Best died just under a year ago and his widow secured the reservation by faculty – ecclesiastical planning permission – so she could be buried next to her husband when she died.

The Consistory Court, which is responsible for legal issues in churchyards and consecrated buildings, will now have to decide whether the body of Mr Hastelow should be exhumed and moved to another part of the churchyard.

Gavin Drake, the director of communications for the Diocese of Lichfield, said:

“The Archdeacon of Walsall, the Venerable Chris Sims, has spoken with both families and their legal representatives but has been unable to reach a consensus about what should happen.  He is now applying for a faculty from the Consistory Court.

“It is likely that a hearing will be held in the New Year at which both families will be able to make their representations before a decision is taken.

“I would like to stress that no blame should be attached to the families for the failure to reach agreement.  Both families are completely without fault.  This problem has arisen simply because of a mistake by the church and we remain extremely sorry that this has happened.  We understand the added grief that this is causing both families and hope that a final decision can be taken early in the New Year.”

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