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Husband gets planning permission to bury his late wife in their front GARDEN

  • Phillip Topham, 56, married Catherine Ann Hooper, 57, just six weeks before she died from oesophageal cancer last Thursday
  • Couple had lived in their home in Colwick, Nottingham for 14 years
  • Mr Topham has been granted special permission by Gedling Borough Council to bury his beloved wife under the front lawn next week

By
Lizzie Edmonds and Luke Salkeld


PUBLISHED:

10:57 EST, 22 November 2013


|

UPDATED:

16:50 EST, 22 November 2013

When his beloved bride of only five weeks succumbed to cancer, Phillip Topham was determined to make sure that she stayed close to him for ever.

So he asked his local council for  special planning permission to bury her in their front garden.

Bricklayer Mr Topham, 56, married Catherine Hooper, 57, just five weeks before she died from oesophageal cancer.

Final farewell: Philip Topham, 56, has been granted special planning permission so he can bury his wife Catherine in their front garden

Final farewell: Philip Topham, 56, has been granted special planning permission so he can bury his wife Catherine in their front garden

'Happiest day of my life': Mr Topham married his partner of 18 years just six weeks ago, pictured, as Mrs Topham was suffering from agressive oesophageal cancer

‘Happiest day of my life’: Mr Topham married his partner of 18 years just six weeks ago, pictured, as Mrs Topham was suffering from agressive oesophageal cancer

The couple wed despite Miss Hooper  being so poorly she needed an oxygen mask to attend the ceremony.

Cancer: Miss Hooper on her wedding day last October

Cancer: Miss Hooper on her wedding day last October

Miss Hooper – who was known as Kate – died in hospital last Thursday.

Since her death, Mr Topham has
started digging a grave in the front garden of the couple’s home in
Colwick, Nottingham, where they lived for 14 years. He was granted
planning permission by Gedling Borough Council and will bury Miss Hooper
under the lawn next week.

The couple, who were together for 18 years, discussed what would happen after her death.

Mr Topham said yesterday he did not
care if the unusual burial site had an adverse effect on the value of
his £150,000 detached property, and said some people thought it was a
‘lovely idea’.

He added: ‘Our home was our  little castle. We loved it here, there are a lot of memories.

‘She is my sweetheart and I want her close to me always. I don’t want her in a field with a load of strangers.

‘I don’t want her away from me and I
don’t think she would want to ever be too far from home – our favourite
place. We spoke about where she would like to be buried and she had no
objections. If she didn’t like an idea of mine she would usually object,
but she just told me that it was fine.’

Miss Hooper was diagnosed with
oesophageal cancer on August 18 and the couple were married at West
Bridgford Register Office on October 11. She died in Nottingham City
Hospital last week.

Mr Topham said of their wedding: ‘It was one of the happiest days of my life.

‘A lot of people think it is lovely
what I am doing. Some people have welled up when I have told them after
getting over the initial shock.

Burial: Mr Topham began digging his wife's grave last week, shortly after his wife sadly passed away

Burial: Mr Topham began digging his wife’s grave, pictured, last week, shortly after his wife sadly passed away

‘I don’t care what people who are
against it think, we loved our home here together, we are right on the
River Trent and would often go down to the beach for a picnic.

‘We were best friends, we did
everything together – car boot sales, shopping – it is still hard for me
to come to terms with everything.

‘I expect there will be a lot of people at the funeral, she was a popular woman in Nottingham, she had a lot of friends.

‘If I could pay a tribute or describe my wife I would just say the word “beautiful”. She was my beautiful wife and I miss her.’

Resting place: Mr Topham wanted his wife to be buried under their front lawn in Colwick, Nottingham, pictured, as it was where the pair enjoyed their 'happiest times'

Resting place: Mr Topham wanted his wife to be buried under their front lawn in Colwick, Nottingham, pictured, as it was where the pair enjoyed their ‘happiest times’

If a person wants to arrange a
private burial on their land they must first check with the Land
Registry, the Environment Agency and their local authority. The
Environment Agency says that no laws prevent people being buried in
their own garden, but an authorisation form must be filled in, since
decomposing corpses can pose a health risk.

A garden grave must be more than 35
yards from standing water and at least 55 yards from a well, borehole or
spring that supplies water for any use.

It must be deep enough to dissuade
foxes from digging and it is also necessary to record the whereabouts of
the grave and include this in the deeds of the property.

A Gedling Borough Council spokesman
said: ‘We have done all the necessary checks and our public health,
planning and legal  services teams are all satisfied that the burial can
take place on the  private ground.’

Permission: The man has now been granted special permission by Gedling Borough Council to bury Mrs Topham next week

Permission: Gedling Borough Council gave Mr Topham permission to bury his wife next week

PRIVATE BURIAL: ARRANGING FOR A LOVED ONE TO BE BURIED AT HOME

Philip Topham

If
a person wants to arrange a private burial on their own land for a
deceased loved one they must first check with the Land Registry, the
Environment Agency and their local authority.

A
Gedling Borough Council spokesperson added: ‘This isn’t something we
would encourage, because of the sensitivities not only for the bereaved
family, but also for those living in the vicinity.

‘However,
if a person is considering burying someone in this way, they need to
check with the Land Registry, the Environment Agency, their local
authority and their mortgage company first to ensure there are no
reasons to prevent the burial from going ahead.’

The
Environment Agency say that no laws prevent people being buried in
their own garden, but an authorisation form must be filled in, since
decomposing corpses can pose a health risk to the living.

A
garden grave must be situated more than 30 metres from standing water
and at least 50 metres from a well, borehole or spring that supplies
water for any use
.

It
must be deep enough to dissuade foxes from digging up the departed and
it’s also necessary to record the whereabouts of the grave and include
this in the deeds of the property.

The
person responsible for the burial must also obtain a Certificate of
Authority for Burial, or a coroner, from the Registrar of Births &
Deaths.

The minimum
depth for a grave as required by law should provide two feet from the
top of the coffin to the normal ground level above.

A
spokesperson for the National Death Centre added: ‘As a general rule it
is strongly recommended that the grave be prepared to provide at least
one metre of soil below the coffin or shroud and at least one metre from
the top of the coffin to the settled ground level after burial.

‘Remember that an open grave can be hazardous, and should be adequately protected before the burial takes place.

‘If
the chosen plot is in an area which is crossed by a public footpath it
may be advisable to apply for the temporary closure or diversion of the
path under the provisions of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to
ensure that there is no risk to the general public while there is an
open grave and that there is privacy at the time of the burial.

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