We,  The  Natural  Death  Centre Charity,  have created  a  trading  arm  and  are opening a Woodland Burial Ground.  

The project has been simmering  away  for a  few  years  and  this  summer, we are very  pleased to  announce that we are now open.

Eden  Valley Woodland Burial Ground is  a  twenty  acre  site  on  the  Kent, Surrey  border – twelve minutes drive from junction 6 of the M25 and only 1 hour 10 minutes from central London, avoiding rush hour.

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It  is  located  to  the  north  west of  the  small  market  town  of  Edenbridge  which  is  situated  on  the old  Roman  road,  running  from  London to  the  south  coast,  at  the  point  where  it crosses the river Eden.

The  aim  of  the  site  is  to  provide  both a  flagship  burial  ground  where we  can  offer  training  and  inspiration for  those  interested  in  becoming  natural burial ground managers / operators, either  in  the  UK  or abroad  and  who  want  to  try it out before they commit to such a career change.

Of  course,  our  core  mission  is  to  provide the local population with a nature  rich,  peaceful,  affordable,  beautiful,  positive  and  gentle funeral  option.

Any profits will enable the charity to take  on  more  staff  back  at  the NDC’s base in Hampshire, enabling the  charity to tackle important projects and  battles  that,  at  present,  we  simple do  not  have  the  man-hours  to  take  on.

We want to get the message to everyone out there about  their consumer rights, all the hidden choices they actually have, exposing  the  truths,  secrets  and things  that  lie  within  the  conventional and  often  murky  world  of  funerals.

The  land  already  has  seven  acres  of ancient  bluebell  woodland  and  the burials  will  extend  this  woodland across the whole site when it is fully occupied and planted with memorial trees.   The  site  is  surrounded,  on  all sides,  by  tall,  thick  hedges  and mature  trees  which  in  April  are  billowing  with  thick,  white  clouds  of  blackthorn  blossom;  we  are  looking forward  to the sloes!

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In  the  burial  areas  there  are  some  well-  spaced  young  oak trees  which fortunately  give  a  slightly  more  established

feel  than  some  other  new  natural burial grounds.  It feels open and  spacious  but  still  enclosed  and private.

I spent another work-party weekend there last week and I am increasingly falling in love with the place; it is an idyllic  corner  of  southern  England and  I  am  so  looking  forward  to  introducing  it  to  and  sharing it with families and individuals who need our help or who are getting their affairs in order.

I know they will love it too.

One terminally ill lady got wind of its existence a  few  weeks  ago  and  became  our  pioneer – purchasing  her  plot  even before  we  had  the  car  park  and  gates in place.

There  is  no  ceremony  building  on site  but  the  adjacent  Kent and Surrey Golf  Club  and Hotel  (the  burial  site  was  once  part of  the  golf  course)  has  a  licensed, flexible  function  room  if  families  require one.   Most importantly, our  office  is  also  within  the  golf  club along  with  toilets  and  a bar;

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We  aim  to  provide  an  affordable burial  option  and  the  ground  will  be  at the  deeper  green  end  of  the  spectrum  regarding  its  maintenance, terms  and  conditions.

For  example,  we  will  have  a  zero  tolerance  approach  to  grief  litter  and unlike  some  other  so  called  ‘woodland’  burial  sites  we  will  not  allow embalmed  bodies  or  chipboard  coffins.

Grief litter  is  a  description  for  the gaudy  clutter  that  some  cemeteries allow  to  accumulate.

Our  aim  is  that when  seen  by  a  passer  by  it  should give  no  indication  that  it  is  a  burial ground:  it  will  look  natural  but  still accessible and maintained.

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Work parties have so far logged:-

  • A pair of buzzards nesting in an Oak right by the first phase burial area.
  • Orange-tip butterflies and their caterpillars’ staple food stuff – lady’s smock.
  • All the usual woodland flora like violets, primroses, mosses and bluebells.
  • A resident pair of vole-hunting kestrels.
  • My favourite discovery – two Nightingales, who sing day and night and don’t seem to be afraid of us moving around the land.   In my 50+ years I heard one only once before: a fantastic and very special addition to the project.
  • Black cap warblers.
  • And a Heron on one of our two ponds.

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I  am very  excited  to  get  back  to doing  what  I  do  best  and  how  my  career  in  ‘funeral world’  started  some  16  years ago.   I  will  be  setting  the  site  up  and  overseeing it.  

The  day  to day  running  will  be  done  by  the  lovely  Martin House  who is  a trained landscape architect and works at the moment  as  a  environmental  consultant  and  his  wife Amy Hurlestone who is an  experienced events manager working in the charity sector. 

Readers  of  More  to  Death are very welcome to pop in and have a look around.

Rosie Inman-Cook

Manager, Natural Death Centre

www. edenvalleyburials.org.uk

Tel: 01732 860109

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