As I said in the introduction, burial traditionally takes place in either a religious burial ground, usually attached to a building of worship, a local authority or private cemetery, or on private land.
Burial in a Church of England Churchyard is open to everyone who lives in the parish, or who happens to die in a parish, where there is burial space available. You do not have to be a member of the church. Other faiths have their own rules. Many local authorities operate cemeteries for their residents, but in some areas there is little space available. Local people are charged a fee to be buried. Many local authorities charge double fees for non residents or even exclude them completely. You should be allowed to purchase exclusive right of burial for the grave, which means it will be reserved for family members. This right is normally for a set period, so check with your local authority.
One of the biggest changes in the last twenty years or so is the rise in the number of private burial grounds. Commonly titled
‘Green burial grounds’
They aim to provide a burial that is as natural as possible and usually allow only trees or shrubs as grave markers. This means that embalming of the body is not allowed, no reconstituted timbers are allowed for the construction of the coffin, and gravestones are excluded. The end aim will be an area of natural appearance, usually woodland.
Another practice that is becoming more popular is burial on your own land. It is not illegal to bury the dead on your own ground but most local authority planning officers consider that anything beyond two or three of your own family members constitutes a cemetery. In most cases this will constitute a change of use, and will require planning permission. The other factors to consider are that you must own the freehold of the land and the burials must be recorded on the deeds to the property, and you must avoid water courses and standing water. Future access is a major consideration, so this is not something to be entered into without careful consideration and advice.