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 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; but especially for a cremation is depends on your choice of crematorium.

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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.
  • 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.
  • 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 various documentation which is 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 religious or non-religious or you may choose to have no service at all. Any service that takes place must be carried out within the time allowed for each funeral 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 time for an additional charge.

If you prefer, you can hold a service in a separate place, like a church, followed by a ceremony at the crematorium. 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.

The cremation will always 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

If you would prefer not to have the formality of a traditional burial or cremation service, you may wish to consider a Direct Cremation. This provides a dignified, highly streamlined option for a cremation, for which no ceremony or service is held. Please click here for more details.

After the Service

Once the cremation service has taken place we are on hand to go through the options available for you to lay the ashes to rest and choose a memorial for the person who has died. Gardens of Remembrance are the most popular choice, with the cremated remains scattered in a crematorium garden of remembrance, a tranquil garden setting designed for quiet thought and reflection. Other options include having the ashes laid to rest in a family grave in a churchyard or cemetery. Lexden Garden of Rest in Colchester is located in a private setting specifically designed for laying cremated remains to rest.