Court to rule on church burials row

By Annie DavidsonA CHURCH court is to sit and make a final decision on whether a churchyard should be reopened for burials.The church court will rule on the test case of pensioner Joe French, who wants to reserve a burial plot for him and his wife at All Saints' Church in Brightlingsea.

By Annie Davidson

A CHURCH court is to sit and make a final decision on whether a churchyard should be reopened for burials.

The church court will rule on the test case of pensioner Joe French, who wants to reserve a burial plot for him and his wife at All Saints' Church in Brightlingsea.

The church has been at the centre of a row since March when the Rev Richard Salenius declared the graveyard was full and no burials have taken place there since then.


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The Home Office has refused to declare the graveyard full, but Mr Salenius has maintained his stance and not allowed any more burials.

Now a consistory court will be held on November 15, when the Chancellor of the Diocese will decide whether the churchyard is full.

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Mr French, of Tower Street, Brightlingsea, said he had applied to the Bishop of Chelmsford to reserve a double plot at All Saints' Church, but the parochial

church council had turned down his request.

The 90-year-old, who is president of Brightlingsea Naval Association, added it was important to him and his 84-year-old wife, Kay, to be buried at All Saints' Church.

“All our family are there, including my great-grandfather, grandfather and my parents and my wife's parents,” he said.

“I feel very strongly about our burial rights. You don't have to belong to the Church of England to have rights in law.”

Mr Salenius said the matter at stake was whether he and the parochial church council had acted legally in declaring the churchyard full.

“Although it is the chancellor who gives permission for grave reservations to take place, it is in fact on the advice of the parochial church council and we said we can't take any reservations because there is no space,” he added.

“In a way we can be grateful to Mr French for putting in the application. It seems the law is unclear about this matter and it needs sorting out in a legal forum.”

The parochial church council and Brightlingsea Town Council, which has objected to the closure, will be allowed to make representations at the hearing, which is open to the public.

n Brightlingsea Town Council will be holding a public meeting to discuss the churchyard issue on October 20 at 7.30pm at Brightlingsea Community Centre in Lower Park Road.

annie.davidson@eadt.co.uk

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