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The Re-Use of Graves: Unacceptable Practice of Practical Solution?

Britain is running out of burial space, but the re-use of old graves in the country is still uncommon. In fact, this practice has been strongly restricted in the past 150 years, but recent developments suggest this might be about to change.

There are some 700 graves in the City of London Cemetery and Crematorium in East London that have been re-used, all of which are at least 75 years old. The cemetery puts any remains found in the old graves in hessian sacks and then reburies them. While this practice is controversial as not everyone can accept it, this is probably the only way to protect cemeteries' future, a porter at the London cemetery told the Spectator.

At present, the re-use of graves is only allowed in the capital. And while the Ministry of Justice is unlikely to approve it elsewhere, areas of London are gradually starting to recycle graves more and more often. The practice was recently introduced in the borough of Enfield, with Southwark and Westminster expected to follow suit soon.

Grave re-use is already commonplace in Australia, New Zealand as well as parts of Europe.

This change in people's attitudes towards grave re-usage in the UK was confirmed by Gary Burks, the superintendent who manages the City of London cemetery. He said that people have started to accept re-usage over the past 10 years. Some people even go "shopping for themselves" to pick the grave they wish to be buried in.

Grave re-use: Unacceptable practice or practical solution?