Posted by Richard Rawlinson
No. 1: If politicians stopped shirking the critical issue of grave space running out in urban churchyards and cemeteries, and instead hastened legislation to reuse graves after a period of 75 years, they would be hounded out of office by an outraged public, and tabloid headlines such as, ‘Government to dig up Grandma’.
When reuse has been piloted in London, far from a loud outcry, there’s been praise that traditional graveyards are no longer, er, dead space: lovely old headstones are engraved on both sides—recycling at its most creative. By digging deeper, old and new bodies can also cohabit.
The Victorians had no qualms about this. And in Greece today, and some other Orthodox countries, a body is buried only for about six years, at which time the grave is reused. There’s no scandal when, in a religious ceremony, bodily remains are dug up, the bones cleaned and stored elsewhere.
When Cardinal Newman’s grave was opened nearly 120 years after his death nothing of his body or skeleton remained. How many prime sites are, in fact, vacant?