Traditional Burial

Prior to the opening of the UK’s first crematorium at Woking in Surrey in 1885, the significant majority of funerals held in the country were burials. Now, however, traditional burial ceremonies now account for only 20% of funeral ceremonies.

The two most common traditional burial ceremony formats undertaken by celebrants are, firstly, a ceremony held in a cemetery chapel followed by a burial committal or a ceremony held at the graveside incorporating the burial committal. It is also entirely possible to hold a funeral ceremony at another location. I have conducted funeral ceremonies at The Riverside Centre in Farnham, Sizewell Sports and Social Club in Leiston and several village halls.

A chapel in a cemetery following a celebrant led funeral service

As municipal cemetery chapels and other available venues are not religious buildings there can be much greater flexibility regarding the content of the service. It is possible to create a respectful and meaningful Celebrant led, person centered, ceremony based entirely on the values, wishes and beliefs of the deceased and their family. The ceremony could incorporate music, readings and tributes from family and friends, should they wish to contribute. Ceremonies conducted by Celebrants in municipal cemeteries are often much more focused on celebrating the life that has been lead and honouring the achievements of the deceased.

One of the factors to consider is the great British weather. The burial committal is outside and will go ahead whatever the weather. The only time a ceremony and burial committal may be postponed would be when it would be unsafe or impossible to continue due to deep snow.

I should point out that part of the ceremony will involve lowering the coffin into the grave. This can be a surprising and distressing experience if people are unaware that this will happen.