Saturday 1474 – 28th April 2012
Last weeks post was about the joyful wedding of 2 friends of mine and on Photomania a couple of weeks ago I showed photographs of my friend and her 4 week old baby Lily-Rose so that’s 2 out of the 3 of Births , Marriages and Deaths. Seems almost inevitable then that this week I’ll be covering death!
When you get older and in my case because my father died at 68, my brother at 53 and my ex-husband at 59, it’s inevitable that you do sometimes think about death and where you might want to be buried or indeed if you want to be buried at all ( This post isn’t going to be morbid so don’t worry! )
I have always been pretty adamant that I didn’t want to be buried but rather cremated and I’m still sticking to that but I want to tell you about a place that I regularly pass to and from work. ( the photos were all taken in February)
It’s called The Arbory Trust and it’s a Woodland Burial Ground that is also a member of the Association of Natural Burial Grounds .
Take a look at The Arbory Trust’s website here
The Woodland Trust is a Christian charity but as the Trusts literature states they “ warmly welcome everyone, regardless of race, religion, geographical or theological boundary, and you are assured of a warm, caring service at all times from our well-trained staff.”
One winter’s day I took a trip there with my camera, to have a walk round and find out more and spoke with a member of staff who arrived during my visit ( there isn’t someone there all the time) and she was so very welcoming and friendly. There is a very beautiful wooden lodge there, which was opened by David Bellamy, OBE, where services of whatever religion or none can be held and there are also memorial books .
I found it to be a profoundly beautiful and peaceful place. The burials take place in glades surrounded by trees and over 20,000 trees have been planted on the nearly 40 acre site since 2000. The glades have plant names such as Sweetbriar, Honeysuckle and Foxglove
So what did I particularly like about this idea? For me it was that everything used has to be biodegradable, the coffin ( so no brass handles or plaques) , the flat wooden plaques that can be used to mark the grave, the flowers ( thankfully no plastic allowed) and even the benches. So graves are not permanently marked but are recorded by survey so staff could tell where the exact spot is. Grave space can also be reserved by making a half or full payment. In time the woodland will become just that, a natural classic British wood.
People cannot actually plant a tree at their loved ones grave but can sponsor a tree at the site. I love that the trees are all native and I saw Oak, Ash, Wild Cherry, Silver Birch and Yew to name but a few. Graves are sprinkled with grass seed and wildflower seed and I’m looking forward to going back to visit throughout the seasons.
There are apparently over 260 natural burial sites around the country ( in the UK) and if you are interested in finding out if there is one near you take a look at The Natural Death Centre’s website here
I will end with a quote from the Arbory Trusts website which sums it up.
“Woodland burial is a centuries-old practice which is justifiably enjoying a great revival. As people become more aware not only of their responsibility to the environment but also of their ability to choose where their ultimate resting place will be, more and more are turning to woodland burial, where their impact on the environment is less than that of cremation, and where they know they will rest in an increasingly beautiful, natural setting which their family and friends may return to with pleasure as the years pass.
The idea that we can create a living memorial by encouraging new woodlands, and in doing so we can leave something that will be enjoyed by our great-grandchildren, is considerably more appealing than opting for the often very impersonal, crowded environment of more traditional cemeteries, with serried ranks of graves and headstones.”
So have I changed my mind about being cremated… Hmmm I’m not sure but I may not need to worry as you can have your cremated remains buried in a grave space at the Arbory Trust too. 🙂
And when the stream that overflows has passed,
A consciousness remains upon the silent shore of memory;
Images and precious thoughts that shall not be
And cannot be destroyed.
William Wordsworth, from The Excursion .
I know I have a lot of followers and readers in America so if you are interested in this you might like to look at this website The Green Burial Council
In Canada – The Natural Burial Association
In New Zealand – Natural Burials
I’m sure there are many others in different parts of the world too, get googling!
Goodbye from Saturday Girl until next week or join me every day on my other blog Helen’s Photomania here where you’ll find lots more photos.