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Natural Burial Gets Mayor’s Approval

Published on: 25 Jun, 2013
Updated on: 25 Jun, 2013
Mayor of Guildford Diana Lockyer-Nibbs at Clandon Wood by Dani Maimone

The Mayor of Guildford, Diana Lockyer-Nibbs, at Clandon Wood.

Report and photos by Dani Maimone

The Mayor of Guildford, Cllr Diana Lockyer-Nibbs, opened the new beautiful glass walled pavilion at Clandon Wood Surrey Hills Natural Burial Reserve on Friday.

She said: “This is a new experience for me as I have never been to a natural burial ground before. I really enjoyed the morning, it was very special and I really think that this is the way forward.”

The pavilion was blessed by celebrants Emma Curtis as well as, Jack Lynch, Kate Napier and the Rev’d Martha Prince from the Interfaith Seminary.

An introductory video filmed by award winning BBC Grand Designs cameraman Antony Etwell started the day’s proceedings, setting the scene for an informative and memorable event.

Located at the foot of the Surrey Hills between East and West Clandon, Surrey’s newest and largest natural burial reserve invited a number of leading experts in the field to give talks and presentations about what natural burial is.

Simon Ferrar's Mock Funeral

Simon Ferrar’s mock funeral.

Natural Burial means a planned eco-system keeping everything as natural as possible above and below the ground. Wicker, cardboard or wooden coffins are used for burials and considered traditional land practices, without the use of pesticides, enable the meadows to be maintained for wildlife as a natural resource.

Speakers, included; Ken West MBE, innovator of natural burial practices and author of  A Guide to Natural Burial; Kristie West, grief specialist; Pia Interlandi, a young woman in her twenties who designs natural garments for the grave; Fran Hall, chairman of The Natural Death Centre; and Barbara Chalmers, who runs an online portal about life and death decisions, called Final Fling.

Charles Cowling, author of The Good Funeral Guide; funeral photographer Rachel Wallace; Frances Halstead from Surrey Wildlife Trust and Ken Bare from the Surrey Hills Society, completed the line up of guest speakers

The 31 acres of wild meadow are dotted with wild cornflowers, white and red campion, daisies, bird’s-foot trefoil and beautiful wild red poppies. Suffolk Punch rare-breed horses were on hand for carriage rides around the meadows.

Procession to the grave Clandon Wood Natural Burial Reserve

Procession to the grave Clandon Wood Natural Burial Reserve.

Simon Ferrar, founder and manager of Clandon Wood, invited visitors to attend his mock funeral with a traditional horse and cart procession to the grave. A Frank Sinatra impersonator, Paul Holgate from Sugartown, sent the procession on its way to the sound of I Did It My Way. An a cappella singing quartet met the procession in the meadow and Kai, a violinist, serenaded the procession as it passed by the lake on its way to the grave.

Paul singing My Way as Frank Sinatra

Paul singing My Way as Frank Sinatra.

Simon said:  “Once people have visited Clandon Wood it’s easier for them to see what natural burial is all about. In particular the unique way that Clandon Wood supports families to take control so that they can have the funeral of their choice. It’s brilliant to see so many families here coming to have a look around and finding out more about what we can offer them. ”

Fran Hall, chairman of the Natural Death Centre help and advice charity added: “I am very proud that the Natural Death Centre and the Association of Natural Burial Grounds have been part of making this the extraordinary place that it is. A stunningly beautiful landscape, wonderful facilities, passionate and dedicated people, a sacred place has come to life. Clandon Wood is just perfect.”

Clandon Wood is a burial reserve, creating wildlife habitats as part of its sustainable management plan. The wildflower meadows, hundreds of yards of hedgerow, a new lake and wetland site and newly planted native trees already support a wealth of wildlife including skylarks.

The Suffolk Punch horses top the meadows in the autumn and sheep graze the meadows in the spring. It is the perfect place for an eco-friendly funeral in a tranquil and relaxed setting at an unhurried pace. All denominations and beliefs are welcome.

A number of charities were also represented at the event, including Surrey Wildlife Trust, Shooting Star Chase, The Brigitte Trust, Cherry Trees, The Surrey Hills Society and DropBy.

For more information  check the website at or call 01483 479614.

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Responses to Natural Burial Gets Mayor’s Approval

  1. Robert Smith Reply

    November 11, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Once a burial takes place is the grave marked in anyway for future visits or become part of the open space.

    Is there a facility for burial or scattering of ashes? Any area for pets ashes burial or scatter?

  2. Simon Ferrar Reply

    November 11, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    I would like to thank Robert for his interest in Clandon Wood.

    The graves can indeed be marked, however the majority of families so far, have felt that Clandon Wood is memorial enough in itself. Many have chosen to leave the area unmarked to let Nature claim the grave and the body that lies within.

    There are individually designed oak or clay plaques that can be laid on a grave or a carved wooden leaf can be engraved and tied around the trunk of a nearby tree.

    We do inter cremated remains as the scattering of the ashes could have a detrimental effect on the delicate balance of our plant life.

    Clandon Wood is not licensed for the burial of animals but in certain circumstances the ashes of a beloved pet can be interred with its owner.

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