In case you missed it…. Reasonably priced town house on the market, but you’ll have to live with its previous occupants in the garden….six feet under

In Teddington, South-West London there appears to be a normal family home
for sale. The four bedroom house is set in a pleasant suburb and is close to good schools. It is on the market for £650,000, very reasonable for a four bedroom town house in a popular area of the capital. 

There is just one slight hitch; the last occupants of the property are buried in the back garden. 

Curchods, the estate agents selling the property, diplomatically quote the following on the property description: 

‘The rear garden measures approximately 50ft in depth and has significant width. It is important to note that the previous owners’ last wishes were to be buried in this garden, which is where both currently rest.’

The late couple were both illustrators who lived in the property for most of their married lives together. Unfortunately, the wife passed away two years ago and was buried in the garden by her husband, who then passed away in February last year and joined her. 

New owners who would want to remove the couple from the garden must seek permission from the next of kin and then pay an estimated £7,000 to have them exhumed (not to mention the cost of the Ghost Busters, should the previous occupants decide to stick around…). 

According to The Ministry of Justice guidelines on this surprisingly common occurrence, a landowner can potentially apply for a licence to exhume a body without the consent of the next of kin. Information is available on their document here.

For those considering this as an option for their own death wishes, there is no actual law preventing homeowners from being buried on their own property, and you don’t need planning permission. The only rules to follow are that garden graves must be at least 100ft from any running or standing water and 160ft from any drinking water sources. They must also be deep enough to prevent animals from digging them up and you would need to complete an authorisation form so that the burial site is recorded.

Surprisingly, the majority of potential buyers do not seem to have a problem with this. Some commentators have even remarked that it must have been a very happy home for the late owners, so would happily live there to. 

Philip Topham, a bricklayer, 56, buried his partner of 18 years, Catherine, in his garden last year. The couple who lived in Colwick, Nottinghamshire, had married a few weeks before she passed away from cancer. Mr Topham said he told his wife about the plans before she passed away and she was content with them. He added that he did not care whether it would devalue the property, as ‘she is worth a million’. 

A nice option for those besotted by their family homes then, but it remains to be seen whether this particularly unique addition to the Estate Agents’ details will delay a sale or reduce the price gained. 

If you are looking to purchase a property and don’t want any hidden surprises, contact your Local Chartered Surveyor at


13/01/2014                                                                                          CW / SJ / LCB

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