Body of atheist to be exhumed 20 years after 'mistaken' burial in church graveyard

Tue 11 Jun 2019
By Eno Adeogun

The body of an atheist buried in a church graveyard is going to be exhumed decades after her death following a "fundamental mistake".

​Gwendolen Patricia Crow, 58, was involved in a road accident on 10th January 2000.

She died shortly after in hospital and was buried ten days later in consecrated ground at a Surrey church yard without her family’s knowledge.


A judge of the Church of England's Consistory Court has now granted rare permission for the committed atheist’s remains to be exhumed and cremated.

Morag Ellis QC, deputy  hancellor of the Diocese of Southwark has agreed with the family’s wish for the woman’s remains to be scattered elsewhere.

The judge explained that when Mrs Crow was killed her family was “traumatised” so a family friend, Simon Ebsory, who was a practicing Christian, arranged the funeral for them “with the very best of intentions”.

She was buried in St Nicholas Church churchyard at Charlwood near Crawley, Surrey.

Mrs Crow’s daughters and widower, William Crow all made a plea for her to be exhumed as, "we do not regard this as a suitable place to honour the memory of this woman”.

According to The Telegraph, when Mrs Crow died, she was on her way to help out at her daughter Justine’s bookshop. Justine, who was pregnant at the time, gave birth the day after the accident.

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