The Natural Burial Ground
Every natural burial ground is different. Some are formal, more like cemeteries, with chapels and paved roads. Some are managed with a light hand, and can look rather unkempt. At Sun Rising, we aim for a perfect balance: keeping new burial areas neat and accessible, while older graves gradually become part of the nature reserve.
Funerals at Sun Rising may be traditional or informal, conventional or individual, sombre or colourful, religious or humanist. While some families use a funeral director, a minister, hearse and limousines, other funerals are family-centred gatherings using our own arrangement service. It can be a very simple farewell, with no fuss, or an exuberant celebration of life. It is possible to spend quite a bit, or keep the costs very low indeed. We're here to help you to create the funeral that is right for you.
At Sun Rising, there are two options for burial: woodland or meadow. This is true for both coffin burial or interment of ashes. We can usually give families a range of locations, so, if they would like to, they can choose the exact spot.
Woodland Burial Areas
In our woodland burial areas, a native tree can be planted on the grave. A small slate memorial tree plaque can be installed beside the tree, marking the grave.
Families can choose from a list of native trees, or decide according to what trees have been chosen for plots nearby. We plant a limited number of those trees which grow to be large, making up the high canopy of a woodland, such as oak and small leaf lime. There are plenty of trees that will always fit in, such as hazel, cherry and birch.
During the summer months, paths are mown in newer woodland burial areas, allowing access to graves for visitors. Individual trees are guaranteed for ten years, after which time the areas are managed as woodland. Trees are planted as 2 - 3' saplings in late November to mid-December on graves over 6 months old. Families are invited to attend the planting and can plant the tree themselves.
It is not possible to reserve specific plots in advance of need in a woodland area.
Meadow Burial Areas
In the meadows of wildflowers and grasses there are burial areas that are open and peaceful beneath the sun and stars. They change with the seasons - in spring, primroses, daffodils and cowslips bring an array of yellows; as the summer comes, there are trefoils, clovers, vetches and daisies; by August it is all purples with knapweeds and scabious, and brown seedheads, before being mown for the autumn and winter.
For the funeral itself and around some new burial areas, the grass is mown. No paths are mown between meadow graves, however, the areas being mown just once a year in late August or early September. Meadow graves become inaccessible in the summer months, amidst the tall growth of the grasses and flowers. After a few years, the graves start to disappear.
Because of the annual mowing, plaques are not permitted on meadow graves. This is ideal for those who wish to be buried in total simplicity, disappearing into the flowers and the birdsong. For those who would like a marker, a slate plaque can be bought for a nearby pathside memorial post.
When a loved one is buried in the meadow, it is possible to reserve the adjacent plot.
Religious Traditions and Other Beliefs
People of all faiths and beliefs are welcome at Sun Rising. For many, it is the beauty of nature - whether as God's creation or as beautiful in itself - that draws people to choose a natural burial ground.
Many of our funerals are Christian, of many denominations. Some have the service at local church or chapel, then come to Sun Rising for the committal. Some Christian services are held at Sun Rising, the minister taking the service in the Roundhouse or at the graveside. The burial ground is not consecrated, but individuals are free to have graves blessed by ministers of their own faith. We have also had Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Pagan and Humanist services, and many funerals which include a gentle sense of God without church liturgy.
For those of the Islamic faith, we have an area specifically for Muslim burials, with graves accurately aligned to Mecca. We are happy to accept shroud burials and Muslim prayers at Sun Rising. It is often possible to bury within 48 hours, although a surcharge is made for short notice funerals.
If you have any queries with regard to your own specific needs, do get in touch.
About two thirds of our funeral services are held in the Roundhouse at Sun Rising. It is also a perfect place to hold a memorial service, or any family gathering in honour of a loved one. It comfortably holds 45 people standing, and has window sills for 12 to sit.
At other times, it is a place for quiet reflection, a place to curl up with a book, to watch the linnets and skylarks, or share a thermos of tea and stories about that special person buried close by.
Built of Cotswold stone, with oak window seats set upon the low stone walls, the Roundhouse is in the middle of the burial ground, approached by a stone track from the car park. Roses, ivies and honeysuckle climb the oak beams at the eight corners of the octagon. Wildflowers around the building give a beautiful display through the summer months.
Its roof is wooden on the inside, allowing a beautifully warm acoustic, that holds conversation and music, yet also offers a softened quietude. Slate memorial plaques fill the inner lintels of the building. The green roof has been replaced with one of cedar shingle.
Nova's Cabin is a small wooden cabin located just inside the five bar gate on the track that heads down towards the pond at Sun Rising. Built 2013, it has a small room where families can meet to talk about ideas and options, arrange funerals, or simply share stories and a hug on a difficult day.
Inside there is also an eco-toilet: a facility which is totally off the grid, working without electricity, water or chemicals. The waste is composted. It doesn't look or work like an ordinary toilet, but is nonetheless very comfortable, and reasonably disabled accessible. (For anyone interested in the technology, the toilet is from Toilet Revolution.)
NB: The cabin and toilet is only open when a member of staff is on site. If you are visiting and would like access to the toilet, please call in advance to check that we can be there for you. It is locked at all other times.
Sun Rising by Annie Skowronska
plants with names like poems
curl, creep and hide in grasses growing wild
around fledgling trees,
a future forest trussed in tubes
putting down roots
growing stronger each year
bringing new life from each death,
such perfect symmetry
Silence deep and restful
broken only by nature
wind through branches,
busy birds on feeders
bees buzzing from
hives to blossom
and back again,
and flower-sweet honey
is the taste of this
place of peace
Quietly watchful, a grey hare hesitates,
then comes closer cautious but curious
at home among those resting here
nestled in nature
Ahead vast skies stretch to far horizons
while behind hills rise steeply holding us safe
as we remember a smile,
sweet moments in time
to hold dear
with each passing year