The first contact may be under difficult circumstances, and you can be sure that we will be on hand to advise, guide and support as necessary. From personal experience, we know that this may be the first – and possibly the only – time that you have organised a funeral, so support and guidance is extremely important.
Frequently, the situation is difficult – you will be emotional, and maybe not in the best frame of mind to make sense of what appears to be a difficult process. Which is where we can help – as can nursing home staff, doctors and funeral directors.
We are available at short notice to support and help you arrange a burial, or to purchase a plot in advance. In either circumstance please phone or email us us to discuss arrangements and to book a visit at which time you can select a plot.
If you take advantage of all the sources of information, guidance and support that are available, the task is soon achieved, and a lot of the stress can be relieved.
You can make an initial contact with us using the details on the contact page - either by phone, or by email.
The Natural Death Centre.
Established in 1995, The Natural Death Centre is a social, entrepreneurial, educational charity that gives free, impartial advice on all aspects of dying, bereavement and consumer rights.
They give support on family-organised and environmentally friendly funerals, and they run the Association of Natural Burial Grounds. Although green in outlook, they promote choice and education in all aspects of funerals.
The Natural Death Centre and the Association of Natural Burial Grounds are both managed by Rosie Inman-Cook and her daughter Lara, supported by the board of trustees who all work within a variety of professions concerned with death or dying.
Their website, www.naturaldeath.org.uk/ is a mine of information about what to do, when and how to do it, in respect of organising a funeral. They are the foremost, most authoritative source of information in the UK, and we highly recommend visiting their website before doing practically anything else.
They inform, educate and debunk myths, and they will relax and fill you with confidence.
CRUSE Bereavement Centre
CRUSE is a not-for-profit website designed to provide people who have recently lost a loved one with information and support on grief and their legal duties following a death.
They offer a different perspective on numerous aspects of bereavement, with emphasis on circumstances which may relate to you. We include their website address for this purpose, and we hope that this may be of use to some people.
Advance purchase of plots
We do offer an advance purchase option, and this is one way of making sure that your wishes are fulfilled in respect of this. It is also a way of relieving friends and/or family from having to do so at short notice.
Purchasing a plot in advance confers a right of burial, not of ownership of the land in question, or any other rights. We do not commit to specific plots until the time comes to use them, as we use land in blocks over periods of time, and then plant trees, hedges, shrubs and flowers on and around them. If you purchase a plot in advance you will be given a Right of Burial Certificate.
We maintain a detailed plan of the cemetery, showing the position of each grave. This is open for inspection and may be viewed during normal office hours by appointment.
At the appropriate time, we will work with you to agree a suitable plot, according to your wishes. After the ceremony every family will receive a copy of the plan showing the position of a relevant grave. All our plots are in similar situations, in the same area of land, and they all are part of the creation of the nature reserve.
The exception is when a double plot is reserved – after the first use, the second plot is retained adjacent to the first. We do not offer double depth plots.
As we get older many of us wish to get our affairs in order. Writing a will and a set of advance decision documents (these used to be called living wills) is a good start. Some people take this one step further and want to plan their funeral and pay for it in advance. Most do this to secure the send off they want and to make sure they do not leave a burden or worry for their family. Money in funeral related saving plans are not counted as part of an estate, ie they are tax and means-test exempt.
Our fully inclusive fees compare very favourably with other provision. £970 for a single burial (2016 price) including the maintenance fund contribution, the grave preparation and administration fee and the provision of a tree. We do not penalise anyone from outside our area with multiple fees as other cemeteries do, we have one price for everyone.
When planning ahead a good place to start is with the cemetery fees. Purchasing a plot in advance gets a big chunk of the eventual funeral costs out of the way and secures it at today's price. It may seem like a strange thing to do but many people find it comforting to know where they will be laid to rest. Knowing that they will be part of a nature reserve is also a positive contribution. Furthermore, it also sends a clear message to your family that this is where you want to be, and relieves them of making the decision themselves.
Using a Funeral Director
There is no doubt that using the professional services of a funeral director will help to ease the organisation of the burial. We do not offer a funeral director service, but we are happy to refer you to a selection of professional companies close to you.
Coffins, Shrouds and Urns
Coffins or urns should be entirely bio-degradable, (made entirely from wood from renewable, accredited sources). Willow, cardboard and woollen coffins are also a popular choice. Chipboard and MDF do not qualify. A variety of coffin makers will be happy to work with you, and a simple internet search will find numerous options.
Shrouds should equally be of entirely natural materials – linen, or cotton are the most frequent.
No synthetic materials should be incorporated into handles, linings or cushioning.
Personal possessions may be included in the casket or urn, but again, these should be of purely natural, bio-degradable materials.
You may wish to follow traditional process at the point of burial, but equally, there is no need to do so. You are at liberty to hold your own private ceremony, or to hold no ceremony at all. We request only that the burial remains respectful and dignified. We may be able to permit you to backfill a grave if this is your wish – please ask us at an appropriate moment.
Using a religious minister or other celebrant
You may elect to ask a religious minister to conduct the ceremony, or alternatively you might prefer a Humanist celebrant. You can also elect to use no officer at all and conduct the ceremony within your group of family and friends - there are no hard and fast rules.
If you choose a Humanist celebrant to help at this time, you can find a list of people who offer this service with a simple internet search, stressing your locality.
After the interment
Once the grave is backfilled, we plant a sapling tree (at an appropriate time of year), and/or woodland wildflowers on the plot.
The selection of plants, and the suppliers of them is strictly limited to nurseries who can supply indigenous species of plants and flowers, in order not to dilute the English woodland nature of the area. This is part of our planning permission, and therefore we are not able to negotiate on this. All plants and seeds should be obtained through us.
Cut flowers may be placed on graves (with all packaging removed). We will remove them when they begin to wilt.
As explained in the Terms and Conditions, the natural burial concept precludes permanent grave markers, such as headstones, railings, vases or other non-degradable items. The natural burial ground, and the nature friendly environment it creates, becomes the memorial. However, in recognition of the fact that people will want some form of marker, we do offer a laser engraved granite plaque which is bonded to a granite tile. We do stipulate that this must be purchased from us in order that all grave markers should be similar. The plaque is laid flat on the grave, so that ground maintenance is not inhibited, and as it weighs in excess of 9 kg, it is unlikely to be shifted by wind or rain. Prices are on the Prices page of this website, and they are very close to cost price. Please call us for more detail if required.
Please read the “Terms and Conditions” page on this website for some clarifications and specific detail about this aspect of the management of the burial ground and woodland nature reserve.
And finally . . .
Imposing strict conditions is not something we do gladly, but for several reasons we need parameters, and for these to be clearly explained, for everybody's sake. In particular, they help us stay true to our aims and goals, and allow us to follow the guidelines given to us in the planning consent that allows us to operate the burial ground. Please refer to the "Terms and Conditions" page of this website for specifics.
In the event of any confusion, please do not hesitate to pick up the phone and speak to us. We will be very happy to clarify any misunderstandings.