Burial or cremation?

A burial or a cremation is probably the biggest decision you’re going to make when it comes to arranging the funeral. The decision will depend on what is right for you and your family, based on personal beliefs, religion, and tradition.

Whether you choose a churchyard burial, burial in a cemetery, or at a private or woodland burial site, we will advise you on the options available; the costs; and the rules and regulations; which differ depending on where the burial takes place.

If your choice is cremation, there are several local crematoria providing very good facilities. We will guide you through the statutory documents and explain the costs involved. Again, costs for a burial or a cremation vary; especially for a cremation, which depends on your choice of crematorium. Your local funeral arranger can advise about this.


The practice of earth burial for the dead is an ancient custom, with various choices for the place of burial, depending on religious beliefs, custom and tradition.

The traditional place of burial for those living within a parish is the churchyard. A parishioner is defined as one who normally resides in the ecclesiastical parish in question. Additionally, a person on the church electoral roll at the time of death and a person happening to die in the parish also have a right of burial in the churchyard.

The person paying fees for a churchyard burial does not obtain ownership of the grave, nor even, in strict law, the exclusive right of burial therein. All land in a churchyard remains the property of the church authorities unless granted to an individual by a faculty at the discretion of the chancellor of the Diocese concerned. There are therefore no grave deeds. Headstones are allowed but are subject to strict regulations, which our memorial team will explain to you.

Burial in a Local Authority Cemetery is another option. There are different types of graves available in most public cemeteries, including lawn graves which can be single or double depth. These are purchased on a limited tenure, which can be renewed. You can choose to have a headstone fitted and our memorial team will be able to advise you on the regulations. In most public cemeteries, there are separate areas allocated for Church of England, Roman Catholic, Muslim and Jewish faiths. Designated areas are provided for the burial of cremated remains.

The provision and management of local authority cemeteries is regulated by the Local Authorities’ Cemeteries Order 1977, covering issues including layout, repair and access.

Privately owned burial grounds can be divided into various categories:

  • Cemeteries owned by commercial organisations or private companies and operating in much the same way as local authority cemeteries.
  • Burial grounds for specific denominations or religions, exclusively for members of their own communities, such as convents. In the larger conurbation burial grounds for Jews, Muslims and Quakers are often to be found.
  • Burial grounds on family estates, including country estates with burial grounds or a mausoleum for family members.
  • Burial in private ground, other than a churchyard or cemetery, is not forbidden by law, although no new private grounds can be opened without the consent of the local Environmental Health Authority.


Before the cremation takes place, you will need to provide the correct documentation required by law. We will assist you with the paperwork, and ensure everything is completed accurately and delivered in time for the cremation to take place.

The cremation service can be faith-based or non-religious, or you may choose to have no service at all. Any service that takes place must be carried out within the appointment time allocated for each funeral by the crematorium, and not impact on the funeral before or after. The duration of the service varies between crematoria, but is usually 45 minutes, which allows time for people to enter the chapel, hold the service and leave. If you feel you will need a longer period of time, it is possible to book the following service appointment time for an additional charge.

If you prefer, you can hold a service in a separate venue, like a church, with a ceremony at the crematorium before or afterwards. You can arrange for your own minister to carry out the service, or your funeral director can help you find a suitable person to take the service. We have a number of excellent, trusted celebrants who we use regularly and can recommend.

The cremation itself will normally take place on the same day as the service, usually within a few hours. The coffin is taken into a room where the nameplate is checked. An identity card is then attached to the cremator, where the coffin is placed, and is kept with the ashes until they leave the crematorium. The coffin is always cremated with the body in accordance with the Cremation Code of Practice. The code also requires that nothing must be removed from the coffin after it has been received from the chapel and that it must be placed in the cremator exactly as received.

The end of the service is known as the committal. During the committal the coffin is usually hidden from view by curtains or taken out of the chapel. If you are arranging a funeral and would prefer the coffin to remain on view until everyone has left, your funeral director can arrange that for you. When the service is over, we are on hand to lead close family out of the chapel, followed by the other mourners. You will have an opportunity to look at the floral tributes and the family will have time to thank people for coming.

Direct cremations/Unattended funerals

Direct cremation, or unattended funeral as it is also known, has had an increased profile in recent years. It’s an alternative to more traditional funeral services, but no family or friends can attend. The deceased is kept in our care until they can be taken to the crematorium. After cremation their cremated remains are released to the next of kin. It can be seen as a way to save money and also allows mourners to organise a celebration of their loved one in a more informal manner at a time which suits them, rather than the crematorium.

As a local funeral director, we provide direct cremations/unattended funerals with the same compassion and professionalism given to every funeral we arrange. We care for your loved one locally, our own team looking after them in our facility until the time for their cremation. With us, you can be sure that your friend or relative is treated as an individual, with dignity and professionalism, by people you know.

Please speak to your arranger in branch if you would like to consider this option, which is also available for inclusion in a pre-paid funeral plan. Please click here to find out more about direct cremation/unattended funeral.

Woodland burial

Woodland Burial is increasing in popularity as concerns for the loss of trees and wildlife become widespread and several councils, private companies and individuals have recognised that burial facilities can be designed to offer many benefits to wildlife, whilst also introducing greater choice for the bereaved. Woodland graves offer a return to nature for those who wish to be buried in areas where trees, shrubs and wild flowers grow.

The concept of a ‘green’ or woodland burial is growing in popularity, and we are pleased to offer this alternative at a variety of natural burial grounds across the region.

“Regret not me beneath the sunny tree; I lie uncaring, slumbering peacefully”  Thomas Hardy

It is reported that green or natural burials currently account for just 6.5% of the market.  However, 64% of the British public like the idea of a green funeral.

The growing interest in environmental issues has encouraged the development of a range of alternative elements in a funeral arrangement, including both eco-coffins and natural woodland burial sites.

A green burial

A green burial shows respect and responsibility for the environment, and offers future generations a protected piece of woodland for many years to come.

For each burial, a tree is planted and an oak name plaque is placed. The woodland will be sustained and regenerated in perpetuity, creating a proper and respectful resting place in a natural woodland setting for people of any religion or secular belief.

Essex and Suffolk green woodland burial grounds

Crouch Valley Meadow

Althorne Hall Farm
Fambridge Road



GreenAcres Epping Forest

Kiln Road
North Weald
CM16 6AD

01992 523863



Greenwood Burial Ground


01728 603108


Herongate Wood

Correspondence to:
19 Greens Farm Lane
CM11 2EZ

Please note the Cemetery Address:
Herongate Wood
Billericay Road
Essex CM13 3SE

01277 635085
01277 811064


Oakfield Wood Culford

Bury St Edmunds
IP28 6TX

Correspondence to:
Oakfield Wood Wrabness
The Estate Office
Wrabness Hall
CO11 2TQ

01255 880040


Oakfield Wood Wrabness

The Estate Office
Wrabness Hall
CO11 2TQ

01255 880040


Feldy View at West Mersea

Correspondence to:
West Mersea Town Council
10 Melrose Road
West Mersea

01206 382128


Old Park Meadow

Coppice Lane
North End

01245 806332


Stanway Parish Community Burial Ground

Comb Meadow
Church Lane



After the service

After the service, you will have several more choices to make, concerning your loved one’s memorial if there has been a burial, or final resting place if you chose a cremation.

Find out more