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Atheist exhumed from Christian graveyard after almost 20 years

A family in Suffolk has been granted permission to have crash victim Gwendolen Patricia Crow exhumed from her grave from St Nicholas Church in Charlwood, Surrey.

Crow died after a car accident on 10 January 2000 when she slid on black ice and ended up in a ditch. While she was waiting in her car for help to arrive, another car hit her from behind. She was buried 10 days later.

An appeal to exhume her body on the grounds of her atheist beliefs was lodged to the consistory court of the Diocese of Southwark, by Rebecca Jane Crow the daughter of the deceased on 14 May 2018.

A statement from the family explained that when their mother and wife died in a car accident, it was a “great shock” to them. A close friend then took over the duty of arranging the funeral, and interred her at a local Christian cemetery, which turned out to be against the wishes of the deceased.

The statement said: “Our mother did not refer to herself as a Christian (neither does our father) and was not a church goer or observer of Christian ceremony of any kind and we were not brought up as church going Christians and it was therefore some surprise to us that she would be buried in a churchyard and most particularly in consecrated ground.

“We do not regard this as a suitable place to honour the memory of this woman and we wish therefore to take steps to rectify an unhappy situation in a dignified and respectful manner.”

Crow’s remains are planned to be taken to the Surrey and Sussex Crematorium, where the family wishes to scatter her ashes into the garden.

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