Meadow burial at Kingsbridge cemetery
This meadow burial ground offers a natural alternative to conventional burial and cremation options.
The section is situated in a quiet corner of an established cemetery where local farmers originally used the site as a hay meadow until the early 1980s when it was left to go back to nature.
During this time several oak and birch trees established themselves and when the area was carefully cleared a few years ago the meadow was once again revealed with wild flowers and grasses appearing; this created a diverse environment with an abundance of insects, birds and small mammals inhabiting the site.
To maintain the biodiversity as much as possible only hand tools have been used to carry out any necessary grounds maintenance. More recently hay was hand cut and harvested from the meadow and native hawthorn, Hazel and Holly was planted to enhance the habitat and provide shelter for the wildlife.
The area is designed to allow visitors to appreciate the natural beauty of the meadow whilst offering an appropriate environment for remembrance, meditation and quiet contemplation.
As this is an environmentally friendly method of burial we ask people to observe the following guidelines:
- a coffin or casket made from natural material must be used; this can include cardboard, wicker or wood from a sustainable source, but does not include the standard chipboard or MDF coffin
- we do not insist on the use of coffins, so families may choose a wool or cotton shroud; if so, consideration should be given to using something practical to carry the body to the graveside for example a stretcher or wicker basket
- identification of the deceased must always be clearly visible and provided in the form of a nameplate or small plaque made from a sustainable source i.e. wood, cardboard, paper etc
- the body should not be embalmed (often called hygienic or cosmetic treatment by funeral directors) as this involves the use of chemicals
- funeral wreaths should be kept to a minimum and be composed of earth friendly material rather than containing plastic, wire or oasis holders
- the area is maintained by the council in a low key manner as the minimal amount of mowing positively encourages and protects trees, shrubs and wildlife
- no herbicides or chemicals are used in the area
- wild flowers / grasses are encouraged and therefore the traditional 'neat and tidy' appearance portrayed in other parts of Kingsbridge cemetery does not apply to the meadow
- families should consider this burial option carefully as other sections of Kingsbridge and other cemeteries offer traditional graves and regular memorial options with frequent maintenance
- each grave will accommodate one coffin burial only, and / or burials of ashes
- all graves are recorded on a plan to allow for their location in the future as and when the meadow / woodland develops
- under current council policy a lease is granted for each plot for a period of 99 years
- granite or stone memorials are not permitted; however, the council can provide wooden markers upon request
- trees are not planted on individual graves as this could result in over-population; instead trees are planted where and when required and to give cover and colour all year round.
Seasonal changes in the meadow
Winter to early spring when there are no leaves on the trees, light levels in the meadow are good. The conditions are damp and as the soil starts to warm up the first flowers begin to show. Typical flowers at this time are snowdrops, wild daffodils and primrose.
During late spring the soil is still moist and continues to warm up; daylight hours increase and the trees start to produce new leaves. The amount of light on the meadow floor is reduced, but is enough for shade tolerant varieties to thrive.
As summer arrives the trees are growing strongly and taking large amounts of moisture from the soil. The leaf cover continues to thicken rapidly and reduces light levels on the meadow floor; In these conditions only the shade loving plants will be seen i.e. ferns and wood spurge.
The reduction in daylight hours and lower air temperature starts the process of autumn colour and leaf drop; there are few flowers visible in these conditions and instead, various fungi can be seen along with berries, fruits and seeds.
Prior to arranging a burial in the meadow section a site visit must be arranged with the cemetery supervisor to discuss the exclusive regulations that apply to this area; please telephone 01792 892836 / 07980 721561.