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.
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!
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;
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.
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.
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.
Manager, Natural Death Centre
Tel: 01732 860109