Natural burial grounds are the alternative to a traditional cemetery or church yard. They provide a final resting place in a countryside setting and insist on bio-degradable material to be used in coffins and shrouds. They also ask that bodies are not embalmed thus reducing land pollution. A green, or natural burial is therefore a way of caring for the dead with minimal environmental impact. This helps conserve natural resources, reduces carbon emissions, protects worker health, and restores and/or preserves natural habitat.
As the environment of green or natural burial grounds is kept as wild and as natural as possible, memorials and headstones are generally not permitted, but often memorial trees can be planted to mark the grave.
Not all natural burial grounds are the same and more are opening up each year. In Essex there are currently four which include:
- Crouch Valley Meadow, Althorne, Essex
Crouch Valley Meadow provides a final resting place in a wonderful landscape overlooking the River Crouch
- GreenAcres Epping Forest
GreenAcres Woodland Burial Parks operate across the UK and offer a unique and stunningly beautiful place where burials and ash interments take place within a mature woodland landscape.
- Herongate Wood, Nr Brentwood, Essex
Herongate Wood is a green cemetery of 25 acres of rolling Essex wild-flower meadow, adjacent to ancient bluebell woods near Brentwood.
- Oakfield Wood Nature Reserve, Wrabness
This 7 acre site is a 'green burial ground'; overlooking the Stour Estuary. When the burial ground is full, it will be managed as a nature reserve by Essex Wildlife Trust.
Type of Service
No particular form of service is expected, the choice is left to the family. People of all origins, faiths and beliefs are respected. Memorial trees may be planted at the time of internment.
Where cremation is chosen, the service may be held at the Crematorium or at the graveside on exactly the same basis as for a burial. The ashes can then be buried in a single or family plot or scattered in the Natural Burial Ground.
We offer a wide range of environmentally friendly hand crafted coffins, ranging from woven bamboo, banana leaf or willow, through to strong and sturdy cardboard. See our coffin guide.
Flowers must be supplied with no cellophane and only using natural biodegradable ties. It is best to avoid florist’s oasis too, unless you take it home with you after the ceremony. Most florists can make up tributes suitable for green funerals and you can also have green foliage woven into the coffin. See our floral brochure.