Louth woman wins battle to have father’s ashes re-buried after council blunder

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Louth Town Council has been slammed by a leading churchman after a ‘blunder’ which saw a husband’s ashes buried in the wrong grave.

The ashes of Frank Wells were buried on April 21, 2015, and should have gone into the grave of his late wife, who was buried in 1991 in Louth’s London Road cemetery.

However, it emerged at a hearing that Mr Wells’ remains were actually interred in the grave of a Mrs Turner which was adjacent to that of Mrs Wells.

The Wells’ daughter won the right for her parents to be ‘re-united in death’ after a hearing at the Church of England’s Consistory Court.

After being approached by the Leader, town clerk Linda Blankley said that the council had facilitated the re-interment, complied with all conditions requested by the judge, and introduced ‘additional safeguards’ regarding burial allocation procedures.

The mistake came to light after a friend of Mr Wells visited the cemetery - administered by the town council - and raised the alarm that things were not right. He spotted that the memorial to Mr Wells was over the grave of Mrs Turner.

Mark Bishop, Chancellor of the Diocese of Lincoln, in his role as a judge of the Consistory Court, overrode normal church policy and granted a request by Mr and Mrs Wells’ daughter for the ashes to be exhumed and re-buried in the grave of her mother.

Consent for exhumation by the Consistory Court, which has to approve such matters, is rare as church philosophy is that a last resting place should be just that.

However, in this case, Chancellor Bishop gave the go-ahead on the basis that there were ‘exceptional’ circumstances. He said there had ‘been a mistake’ which had been quickly acted upon.

He rounded on Louth Town Council and demanded an explanation as to how the blunder could have happened.

He said it was ‘of great concern that such an administrative error could be made in a well-regulated cemetery’.

He continued: “I would expect that record keeping would be such that an error of this kind could not be made.

“I note that there has been no explanation as to how this error was made nor what steps have been put in place to ensure that such an error could not be repeated.

“This is something that I would expect the Louth Town Council to investigate.

“Those using the services of this cemetery are entitled to be able to rely upon good record keeping and careful decisions about interments.I remain concerned that such situation as this has arisen.”

Mrs Blankley told the Leader: “Louth Town Council can confirm that an application for a ‘faculty for the removal of cremated remains’, made in November 2015, was granted in early March 2016. The process was completed with the re-interment of the cremated remains in July 2016.

“Family members were kept fully informed throughout all stages of the process.

“All conditions requested by the Judge have been fully complied with, and burial allocation procedures have been reviewed with additional safeguards introduced.”