Monday, 2 February 2009

Chiltern Woodland Burial Park

I have been waiting to visit the new Chiltern Woodland burial Park since it opened up in November. In fact when I heard there was one opening up I just wanted to burst with excitement! Our area was crying out for a good woodland burial park and when I found out it was the same organisation as Epping forest then I knew it was going to be great!

I decided to take my daughter along to see it, she’s only 2 and a half and I thought she could run around and get some fresh air while we wondered round the woodland chatting to Fran Hall the site manager. The development is still very new, none of the buildings are finished, there’s some construction work going on and the office is a portacabin! However, you instantly see right through the imperfections. The woodland is just breath taking, it’s beautiful, its perfect and its development is Unanimous. I don’t want to seem as all hippy dippy about it, but I can’t help but be overwhelmed at how wonderful the woodland is. Its energy and its beauty is consuming .

The buildings are beautifully designed – still unfinished but judging by the photos of Epping forest buildings then they will be nothing but harmonious with the woodland surroundings. Fran gave me an insight into creativity and spiritualism reflected in the architecture of the wooden buildings. (it’s something I feel is impossible for interpret back to you but will seek out more info about it to pass on)

Fran is lovely, she was a funeral directors for 6 years and understands how hard it is to prove yourself as a young woman in the male dominated funeral industry so naturally we got on well and connect over our vision and the drive for the future of the funeral industry . You can instantly see why Fran and her team will make the woodlands a home for everyone who comes to visit. She is open and accommodating to all ideas as long as it respectful to the woodland.

I can’t wait to see the park complete in the spring. I just want to take people, clients, friends and family to see it. Show them that it’s not such a dark, morbid and scary place as their mind sees! I’ve spoken to friends and mums & dads at the pre-school gates about this fantastic place and they look at me as if I am some crazy weird woman – I mean who the hell gets over excited about a burial ground? I just want to say, hey come and see for yourself, it’s amazing, It’s beautiful, its tranquil and it’s the way forward.

In truth, walking into the woodland last week gave made me realise why I was so excited about this place – the woodland makes death more acceptable, even beautiful. It lifts a layer of taboo, peels back the shade hiding the reality of death and tackles the stigma attached to the processes.

Maybe this is the first step to cracking the great British way of ‘not wanting to think about or deal with death’


  1. Wow! This looks fabulous! When we were burying my dad, as you know, we really struggled to find a natural burial site nearby and were sent to some ridiculous places, the worst being a bit of wasteground beside the M1 near Bruntsfield. Luckily, Chesham Bois parish had just taken on a piece of land for a natural burial site beside the cemetry and my dad now overlooks the woods we could see from the house we grew up in. We walk our dog up there regularly. This woodland looks like a wonderful place to lay loved ones to rest, and somewhere people will feel encouraged to visit because it is also a lovely place to be. I hope the local funeral directors will be encouraged to let people know about it, as this was a problem we had.

  2. Ah, the great lesson of these natural burial grounds is that life goes on -- in contrast to what seems to be the lesson of municipal cemeteries, when you survey their derelict and neglected monuments, that life definitely hits the buffers.

    Did you not buy yourself a wee plot while you were there?

  3. There was something on the One Show last night about such a place. It looks fantastic and gives people a choice, and don't we need it! The main problem is knowing that the choice is out there, so it was great that it was on the TV bringing it to a wide audience.

    My Nan and Grampy's ashes are in the base of the grandfather clock, as home was their fondest place. So I am certainly of the opinion that you should be laid to rest in a place that reflects your personality not just in a row next to someone you might not get on with (ha ha)