A visit to Bath Natural Burials Meadow
Updated: Oct 25, 2022
Upon first sight. It looks just like a normal field with sheep grazing.
But upon taking a closer look. I notice the mounds marking the graves where people have been buried. Some being more recent than others.
The sheep are curious and lazily grazing. I have never seen a such herd of relaxed sheep. I’m not surprised it is so peaceful here. Sally says it's because the sheep owner is so relaxed too.
They can also be quite comical getting into mischief.
The sheep have been known to get buckets stuck on their heads after feeding enthusiastically and sometimes at the most inappropriate moments.
There is no standard funeral here. Coming here today is a great example of this. It's a far cry from the depressing and soulless experience at the crematorium, on a conveyor belt of funerals of a one-in-one-out basis that I have been to many times.
Here, you are unrushed and can stay here all day.
As we went around the field, Sally Cook who is the custodian of Bath Natural Burial Meadow shared what is possible when holding a funeral there.
Sally Cook- Custodian
During covid and lockdown, with social distancing regulations, families found ways to be more creative in finding ways to remain connected whilst holding a meaningful ceremony in the meadow.
If you wanted a Choir to sing at your funeral, then they would be very welcome.
Family dogs can come along to the funerals and kept on leads if they are tempted to chase the sheep.
After the burial it is possible to stay on and gather in the memorial orchard to share food together or bring a Gazebo, along with a portaloo, as there are no toilet facilities here.
The Memorial Orchard where you can plant a tree or gather together after the burial
Sally noted the funerals come in 2 parts - the first part is the grief and sorrow of the death of someone so loved at the graveside, followed by. everyone coming together in celebration of the person’s life
The graves at Bath Natural burial meadows are 4.5 feet deep.
This enables the body to decompose at a faster rate than a body that is buried at 6 feet.
This means that booking a double plot is not possible for a natural burial unless it is an ashes internment (burial).
A burial plot
What they do instead is bury people side by side. Sally showed me the graves of family members who had lived together all of their lives and wished to be together, side by side in death also.
The oak tree watching over the children's graves
To the side of the field under the shade of the oak tree is this spot that hosts the graves of children who have died. There’s a beautiful log bench to sit and reflect on which is deeply touching.
It is also possible to bury a person’s ashes, and under the oak tree is one of the places for this as the ground is shallow because of the roots of the trees.
The beautiful log bench to sit and take shade and time to reflect
They have a GPS system so you can locate where your loved one is buried
. If you text ahead of time Sally will ensure there is a daffodil marker at the grave, to make it easier for visitors to find.
The daffodil grave marker for visitors
You can visit your loved ones' graves at any time.
It is best to let the venue know if you are intending to come at night so they know it’s not intruders and don’t have to leave their beds to come out. (The family live in cottages next to the fields.)
Natural burial stipulates that a person's body has NOT been embalmed. Embalming (“Hygiene treatment”) is an invasive and toxic procedure that pumps the body with carcinogenic chemicals and would cause chemicals and toxins to leak into the land.
Coffins need to be biodegradable so plain wood, cardboard, but interestingly enough NOT .Bamboo.This is because it is water-resistant. (Think houses built on bamboo stilts in the rivers of Asia) It apparently takes years to break down, leaving a big mound at the grave where other graves are flat.
Shrouds are the most biodegradable methods of burial and you can have a homemade sheet or a beautifully embroidered shroud, made of wool. As long as it is biodegradable, then it is fine to use.
There have been over 200 burials here so far, and it has the capacity for 2000 burials and 35 ashes burials.
Footwear - because it is a working farm and land, then people’s attire needs to take into when considering their footwear, especially with the sheep in the field. There is quite a bit of sheep's poo. Wellingtons or suitable waterproof footwear are needed.
Wheelchair access - Sally says that it is possible for a vehicle to pull up beside a plot and for a person to stay in the car, with the door open by the graveside. And it has been known for funeral directors to carry the person in their wheelchair to be at the graveside. Anything is possible it would seem at Bath's natural burial meadow.
You can buy a plot ahead of time for either natural burial or ashes burial. They even have the option to pay by standing order.
The prices at present (2022), are £1290 for burial and £660 for ashes burial (otherwise known as internment)
Then at the time when it is needed extra costs are the gravediggers' fees of £500 (the ground is heavy clay and requires a tractor) and a registration fee, currently £250.
ighly recommend a visit to Bath natural burial meadow, or to your local natural burial grounds, so you can get a feel for it. After my visit here, natural burial is definitely my preference, and I will be adding it to my Funeral Wishes document.
If you would like to get clear on the choices available to you or a loved one, regarding funeral planning, then please do get in touch with me to book a free call.
or you can email me: email@example.com / www.no-regrets.co.uk
Love Mala x