TWO sisters have been left fuming after their late mother’s ashes were exhumed without them being present and without their permission.
A family dispute led to an allegation that the ashes, buried in a casket in the grounds of St Luke’s Church, in St Albans Road East, Hatfield, had been disturbed.
Sisters Alison Whitehead and Judy Miles were distraught that church leaders exhumed the ashes last week to verify they were still there.
Mrs Whitehead, of Smallford, near St Albans, said: “They’ve violated my mum’s grave. It’s absolutely disgusting.
“The archdeacon is a man of the cloth and he’s ignoring my calls.
“It’s outrageous they can disturb a grave.”
She added: “It’s an outrage [that the ashes were exhumed] just on a whim, just because there has been a family dispute.”
And her sister, of Viaduct Way, WGC, said: “It’s very, very wrong that that we’ve been put through this distress.
“They did it without anybody knowing.
“Apparently they are within their rights to do it, but I feel we should have been told.”
A spokesman for the Diocese of St Albans which carried out the investigation of the grave said: “The Chancellor of the Diocese of St Albans granted this permission.
“He would have weighed very seriously whether such an investigation was warranted.
“The chancellor, who is responsible for the care of cremated and buried remains in consecrated land in perpetuity, has jurisdiction to address allegations of interference with graves in such land within the Diocese and can order an investigation if he believes that a petition for such an investigation has merit.”
And the Archdeacon of Hertford, the Venerable Trevor Jones, who was present when the investigation took place and who prayed over the grave, said: “The investigation was carried out in an extremely limited way simply to see if the cremated remains were still present.
“It was also carried out sensitively and reverently.”
He added: “Investigations of this nature are upsetting and relatives are very rarely present.”
The suggestion the archdeacon had ignored calls was refuted.
“I am certain that is not the case”, a spokesman said. “It may just be that the message did not, for some reason, reach him or that he has not connected with Mrs Whitehead yet.”