There’s a regular news story that runs in both local and national news sources about how we are running out of space to bury people. Church graveyards are full and Council cemeteries are rapidly filling up.
The majority of people are cremated now. It’s usually a cheaper alternative, and there are all kinds of wonderful things that you can do with the cremated remains. Fireworks, jewellery and trees. All possible.
There is some progressive thinking about the future of urban cemeteries. “Skyscraper cemeteries” anyone?
Some people however still want the option of being buried- “returned to the earth”. And for them Natural Burial is a real alternative. Over the last twenty years new natural burial grounds have been opening across the UK. They represent a movement driven by passionate individuals wanting a truly green option, landowners with a desire to use land and companies who see this as a viable business for the future.
Types of Natural Burial Grounds
All Natural Burial Grounds offer the same simple concept. A beautiful enduring place where families can return for years. A natural environment rather than a formal cemetery.
Natural burial grounds vary tremendously- from woodlands, pure nature reserves to landscaped farmland among many. Some will allow memorials- usually from wood or stone. Others will allow no permanent markers, opting instead for tree planting and the cultivation of the natural habitat.
Coffins and Natural Burial Grounds
There will usually be some guidelines on what you can be buried in. Some will accept wooden coffins, others only biodegradable materials. To meet this new need, there are a whole load of amazing suppliers of willow, cardboard and bamboo coffins and even shrouds.
Natural Burial Grounds and Birmingham
If you live in Birmingham it may not seem like an option: we are not well known for our abundance of natural spaces! In fact we are surrounded by some of the most beautiful countryside. And there are two amazing Natural Burial sites within a short driving distance.
Westall Park isn’t far from Redditch and is within easy reached of south Birmingham. It’s beautiful. Run by Amy and Dan it offers a calm and wonderful space for a funeral and is a pleasure to visit at any time, the landscape constantly changing with the seasons. You can see for miles. There’s no feeling of being rushed. Have a look at the pictures on their website, or better still go and see for yourself. You’ll understand then.
Sun Rising is a little further out, but don’t let that deter you. It’s close to Stratford so not really more than a stone’s throw from Birmingham. Sun Rising is perfectly set up to help you think differently about the day of the funeral: here you can stay as long as you want, there’s no rush before the next funeral arrives. Put up a marquee, have a relaxed or formal ceremony. Get involved by filling the grave, or simply wonder at the amazing nature reserve that Emma has created.
These are both truly inspiring spaces run by great people. You don’t have to be a green evangelist or worried about your carbon footprint to appreciate the great beauty and dignity that natural burial can offer to our loved ones.
The Natural Death Centre charity can provide you with loads of information about Natural Burial. They also run The People’s Awards for the Best Natural Burial grounds in the UK.