I heard a radio news item this morning about the fact that Britain is running out of cemetery space and most British people are getting cremated because of the huge cost of casket, in ground burial. It discussing all this it was mentioned that burial space is Britain is leased for a specific period of time and the funeral expenses have to cover this, which is one of the reasons why getting buried there is so expensive.
Huh? I thought I must have mis-heard or mis-understood this. Is the right to occupy a burial plot in Britain in perpetuity or not?
Well, here’s a pretty interesting related article. It looks like Britain is only considering re-introducing the idea of reusing burial sites, although this article does say that graves can no longer be dedicated to one person in perpetuity. 100 years is the current max for a grave to belong to one person. It doesn’t address what happens once that time limit is up, though. Anyone know?
In the old days in Europe (presumably including the British Isles) when they ran out of grave space in a cemetary they would evict the prior tenant by digging him or her up and storing the bones in a “charnal house”, also known by more elegant names, which was basically a storehouse for bones. Underneath Paris, for instance, are catacombs where the bones of the city dead have been stored for centuries. In some areas these are all neatly arranged, in others randomly piled. Sometimes the bones were stored aboveground, leading to the term “boneyard”. There is at least one church in Europe that used the bones of former parishoners as decoration - I don’t know if it is still used for worship or not but I’ve seen it featured on TV shows like *Ripley’s Belive It or Not *. Anyhow, once the grave was cleaned out you put the new person in until you ran out of space again and dug that person’s bones up. I guess the idea behind the 100 year limit on “residency” is the assumption (or hope) that by the time a century has gone by there aren’t any relatives around with enough personal attachment to the deceased to pitch a fit when you dig up their remains.