A CHURCH has refused a family’s request to reunite their parents by moving their father’s ashes.

Julie Morton went to Church of England officials to seek permission for George Humphreys’ ashes to be exhumed from the plot at St Mary the Virgin’s church at Deane, Bolton.

The family wants to exhume the ashes and move the remains to St Werburgh’s Old Church at Warburton, close to Warrington, where their mother, Audrey Humphreys' ashes are set to be buried after her death in December.

Mr Humphreys was buried in the graveyard in Bolton in March 2007 after he died at the age of 77, but Ms Morton and her brothers say the area has become “derelict” with “dubious and unsavoury characters” hanging around, possibly drug dealing.

She added that when one of her brothers had gone to the church yard to visit his father’s grave he could not get near because a group of people were playing rounders at the graveside

Geoffrey Tattersall QC, Chancellor of the Diocese of Manchester has said the move is not possible, citing rules that a last resting place must be just that unless there are exceptional circumstances to allow permission for exhumation.

In her plea to the Church of England’s Consistory Court, Ms Morton said the family “can only see matters becoming even worse”.

She added: “We do not want to witness these indiscretions any longer, we are very concerned as to the lack of empathy let alone security.”

The churchyard at Deane was originally chosen for the burial of Mr Humphreys’ ashes because it was close to the family home at Ladybridge.

In response, Mr Tattersall said: “On the facts here I am not persuaded that, in the exercise of my discretion, I should find that sufficient special circumstances exist to justify my making an exception from the norm that Christian burial is final."

He accepted Mr Humphreys’ son had seen youngsters playing rounders but said he would be surprised if this had stopped him from getting to the grave.

He suggested he thought the real reason the family want to move Mr Humphreys’ ashes was that, even though Mrs Humphreys’ ashes could be buried with them at Deane, most of the family now live near Warburton and it would be easier for them to visit a grave there.

“I have concluded that to allow this application would be to approve a practice of regarding cremated remains as ‘portable’ and that to do so would encourage such applications, which I am not willing to do," said Mr Tattersall.