Afterthoughts

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Burial plots and how to find one

Britain is littered with examples of burial plots – from Saxon ship burials at Sutton Hoo and Roman stone coffins around Hadrian’s Wall to rural Norman churchyards and modern metropolitan cemeteries.  Although a recent article  by the BBC suggests that cremation is now more popular in the UK than burial, a YouGov poll found that 17% of us still wish to be buried when we die and for some religions it still remains the preferred or prescribed option.

If this is something you are considering, here are the main types of burial plot available to purchase:

Cemeteries

The majority of us will purchase a plot of land from a local authority, who usually own and administer cemeteries.  However, they are not selling land in perpetuity to individuals, rather the exclusive right of burial in that land over a specified time, which can be somewhere between 50 and 100 years.  Once this lease expires it can be renewed by the owner/next of kin if they can be contacted.  You may also like to think about making provision to buy a plot to accommodate other loved ones i.e. a companion or family plot.

As the land local authorities own is finite, with many warning they may run out of space within the next 20 years, the cost of a plot has sky rocketed recently.  The average cost of a plot in England will vary from a few hundred pounds in rural areas to thousands of pounds in densely populated areas.   Non-residents will also usually have to pay more and remember that this cost is just to buy the exclusive right of burial and that there will be other burial costs involved that you will need to account for in your funeral planning.

Churches and other places of worship

For those religions that favour burial a specific area, such as a church yard, may be an option.  The Church of England currently allows anyone within the church parish or church register to be buried in churchyards, that still have places available, and will charge burial fees accordingly.  In larger cities in the UK, private burial grounds owned by Jewish, Muslim and Parsees can be found.  Your first port of call should be your place of worship who will then be able to advise where space may be available.

Woodland and green burial plots

An increasingly popular option for those looking for a more environmentally friendly and often cheaper option is to be buried on a woodland, green or natural burial site.  There are an increasing number of these burial sites in the UK owned by charities, local authorities or privately.  The main aim of these sites is to reduce the carbon footprint of a burial, which is already seen to be a better environmental choice than cremation which releases CO₂ and chemicals into the atmosphere.   As such, buying a plot within these sites may come with certain requirements such as the use of a biodegradable coffin.  They are also less likely to allow any markers such as headstones as the aim is to keep the area as natural looking as possible.

As a relatively new initiative, the way in which these burial plots work and are paid for varies greatly, as does their look and feel – woodlands, pastureland and wild meadows are all examples of current green burial sites.  The Natural Death Centre has a search facility to find a site near you (which is recommended to further reduce the carbon footprint of your burial).  They have also set up The Association of Natural Burial Grounds in a move to independently develop industry standards.

Other alternatives

If none of the above plots are going to suit your plans or budget, then you could consider being buried in your garden or any other private land you own.  Read our article on private garden burials here.

Finally, if you are keen to be buried but are still unable to secure a suitable plot, you could also consider burial at sea.  There are currently three designated areas off the coast of England designated for sea burial, as long as the correct certification is obtained, and it may be a cheaper option than buying a land based plot at around £175.  Click here for the government guidelines relating to burial at sea.