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Cemeteries

Cemeteries and crematorium FAQs

On this page you'll find answers to some of the questions we often get asked. If you have a question which is not answered here, or you'd like to know more, please contact Bereavement Services.

Cremation

How are cremations arranged?

Many people contact a funeral director immediately after a death occurs, to let them know they want to arrange a cremation. The funeral director will make sure all of the cremation forms are filled in and given to the crematorium.

It's not always necessary to have a funeral director, but it can be helpful for arranging the legal documentation.

Is the coffin cremated with the body?

Yes. Guidance from the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM) says that the coffin and the body should be placed in the cremator together, and the cremation started.

Once the funeral service is over, our staff never open or otherwise disturb the coffin with the body inside.

Are coffins sold back to the funeral director?

No. The coffin and the body inside are always cremated together.

Are the ashes from different cremations kept separate?

Yes. Our cremators can only accept one coffin at a time, and all ashes are removed before the next cremation takes place.

We have an extensive process in place to make sure that your loved one's ashes are not mixed up or lost.

What is a direct cremation?

A direct cremation is a low-cost alternative to a full funeral cremation. For a direct cremation, no family will attend, and there will be no ministers or service. Don't worry, your loved one's cremation will still be carried out with the grace and dignity they deserve.

Some people choose a direct cremation to save their family further heartache, either because of the emotional distress of a funeral, or because of financial difficulties from the cost of a full funeral.

Cemeteries and burials

Can I purchase a grave in advance?

Unfortunately, you cannot buy a grave in advance. This is to make sure that there's enough burial land available for immediate use, and so our staff have easy access to prepare new graves in our cemeteries.

I've bought a grave, do I own the land?

No. You've purchased the lease for the Exclusive Right of Burial, and the right to put up and maintain a memorial for the piece of land called the grave space. This will be stated in your grave deeds.

Any land outside your designated grave is not part of your grave space, so we ask you to please follow our guidance about personalising graves only in the designated areas. This includes not placing ornaments or memorials on the lawn area if you have a lawn grave, or outside of the kerb set if you have a traditional grave.

I have a lawn grave, why can I not place a full memorial/kerb set?

Lawn graves are designed on the war grave principle. This means they have a memorial of limited size at the head of the grave, and the rest of the grave is laid as lawn.

Lawn graves are easier to maintain, both for grave owners and our staff, as well as being more aesthetically pleasing and ensuring greater tranquillity in our cemeteries.

Are graves filled straight after a funeral?

Yes. Where possible, graves are prepared for burial at least one full day before the funeral, and are covered overnight. The ICCM Guiding Principles for Burial Services says that immediately after the mourners have left the graveside, the grave should be refilled with soil and made tidy.

Sometimes when we're preparing a pre-purchased grave, or re-opening a grave, we may need to dig out the soil and stack it on a neighbouring grave. The Local Authority Cemetery Order allows us to do this. We treat all graves with respect and dignity, and we'll always make sure the grave is boarded and protected while we're doing this.

Please note, during bad weather a grave may appear as 'sunk'. This is natural for the soil to re-establish, and for air pockets to close.

When can I place a headstone on my grave?

Your chosen stonemason can tell you when you can place a headstone on your grave.

Headstones can only be installed by stonemasons which have been approved by the council, and are registered with one of two professional organisations: National Association of Memorial Masons or British Register of Accredited Memorial Masons. The headstone must also meet British Standard 8415. Your stonemason will know what this means.

Your chosen stonemason can apply for a headstone on your behalf. Their application will be reviewed to make sure it meets our headstone policy and guidance, for example making sure it's the right size, and does not contain any offensive content etc. If it meets our guidance, your stonemason will be given a permit allowing them to start the work.