Funerals are a way of marking the end of a person’s life on earth. It is an opportunity for family, friends and colleagues to come together, to express their grief, to give thanks for the life of the deceased, and to commend the person into God’s keeping. This can be in a small quiet ceremony, or at a larger occasion.
Anyone who lives in the parish is entitled to be buried, or to have their ashes buried in the local parish cemetery, regardless of whether they were churchgoers.
Most funerals are arranged by the nearest relatives and if not by a close friend. If there is no one, the local or health authority will arrange a simple funeral.
The deceased person may have left instructions about the type of funeral and burial they wanted. There is no legal obligation for these instructions to be followed, but they usually are.
How funerals are arranged
Everyone who lives in England has the right to have their funeral in their Parish Church.
Most funerals, either a burial or a cremation, are arranged through a funeral director although you can organise it yourself by making contact with the Cemeteries and Crematorium Department of the Local Authority. Before you can make any definite arrangements for the funeral itself, you need to have registered the death. At that point, you will receive the necessary documentation to allow you to proceed with arranging the funeral.
If there is a funeral director involved, he or she is likely to make contact direct with the Vicar. You may choose to be in touch with the Vicar yourself.
The Vicar will discuss with you whether there is to be a cremation or a burial. The timing of the funeral will be resolved, and the Vicar will discuss with you your wishes for the service. This will include a consideration of any readings, prayers, tributes and hymns or other music that you wish to have in the service.
The fees for burials and cremations are designated by the Church of England, and are published each year. Click here to see the current table of fees. The figures in the table do not include any costs such as the services of an organist and/or choir, services of a verger, heating, flowers, bells.
You can find more about funerals on the website, https://churchofenglandfunerals.org/
Burial of Ashes
Where a loved one has been cremated, there is no grave and in consequence the practical issue often arises of what to do with the ashes. Burial of ashes provides a ceremony where the cremated remains are returned reverently to the earth. Generally, this ceremony takes place some time after the cremation.
Where a family requests a burial of ashes, this can take place into the existing grave of a family member or relative. However, at Beltingham churchyard, we do have an Ashes Memorial Garden, in a most tranquil and beautiful setting at one end of the churchyard. If you wish to discuss an ashes interment, you will need to produce the cremation certificate.
You can mark the plot in which the ashes are buried with a slate tablet of specified size and design. It is possible to request that the plot be made double depth, to allow for a later burial of ashes. When such a service takes place, it is usual for those attending to meet in the Church, where the Vicar will then take the assembled group to the plot, and say appropriate prayers. Details of the burial of the ashes will be registered in our church records.
There are prescribed fees for the burial of ashes, which are revised annually. Click here to see the current table of fees. These statutory fees do not include the cost of the preparation of the plot, the plaque and its engraving, nor the Verger’s or administration fees.
The first step in relation to a burial of ashes is to discuss the matter with the Vicar.