View Full Version : Space in Britain's graveyards is increasingly at a premium,Double em up !

11-14-2008, 07:13 PM
More room on top - lack of space brings in the doubledecker grave

Space in Britain's graveyards is increasingly at a premium. Of 600,000 people who die each year in Britain a third are still buried

The disturbance of human remains in burial grounds is to be allowed for the first time since the early Victorian era to deal with a shortage of graves, The Times has learnt.

Under a test scheme to begin in the new year, local authorities across the country will be allowed to exhume remains and rebury them deeper to create space for further burials on top. In some cases, new inscriptions will be added to the existing headstone to ensure that the heritage of the grave is not destroyed. Damaged or insignificant headstones would be removed and replaced with only the new name.

The move comes amid an acute shortage of burial grounds in London and other urban areas, where many cemeteries have already run out of space. It would also ease the difficulty of the disposal of bodies in the event of a pandemic.

Last year a government survey showed that burial grounds in England and Wales will become full in about 30 years. In the capital the shortage is more severe. At least three boroughs have run out of space and some cemeteries have less than a decade left.

Tim Morris, chief executive of the Institute of Cemeteries and Crematorium Management and a member of the Government's burial advisory body, said that only abandoned graves dating back more than 100 years would be considered for reburial under the new scheme.

“In the cities this is a serious problem and our cemeteries are just not sustainable,” he told The Times. “We need these powers across the country or we are going to have serious disposal problems.”

Until the 1850s, bodies were routinely removed from graves but the practice was forbidden in 1852.

If the experiment is successful and the Government agrees to change the law, it will amount to the biggest change in burial practices since cremation was introduced in 1902.

The preferred way of re-using graves would be a doubledecker-style approach, by lifting existing remains, deepening the grave and laying a new coffin on top.

In London alone, local councils have the powers to use available space in abandoned graves - without touching interred remains - if they are more than 75 years old and no living relatives object. Under new powers passed last year, also only in London, authorities can apply to disturb remains but only in private graves.

Mr Morris said, however, that the powers were rarely used because the vast majority of graves with space in the capital were public and could not be touched.

Across the rest of Britain, no interred remains can be touched at all. As shortages exist nationally, Mr Morris said that new powers were essential for every graveyard.

The City of London Authority, which runs a 200-acre cemetery in Manor Park, East London, has applied to be part of the Government's pilot scheme. snip