Bird Cherry leaves in Autumn.
Arranging a Funeral at Sunrising natural burial ground

Arranging a Funeral


We are open for burials and will remain open throughout the current situation.  Let us know how we can help.

Meetings: whether using a funeral director or our own simple arrangement service, we are happy to meet face-to-face maintaining social distancing or we can complete paperwork and guide you through decisions using email, telephone or Skype (or otherwise).   Let us know what feels comfortable for you.

Attendance: as of 1 July, for funerals, interments of ashes and memorial services, we are able to accept a maximum of 15 people using the roundhouse, 30 people in total if social distancing can be maintained throughout.

When a loved one dies, we can suddenly find ourselves faced with so much to think about - just when it is so very hard to think. We are here to offer advice, whatever your decisions and wishes may be.

You may just want to give us a call.  Or you may like to have a look at options and ideas outlined on this page.

For those whose preferred or first language is British Sign Language, we have a Volunteer BSL Communication Support Worker who is sometimes available.

You may also find the following guides useful.

What to Consider when Arranging a Funeral
Sun Rising Practical Steps When Someone Dies 2020 with notes relevant during the coronavirus pandemic.

Grass Vetchling and Buttercups at Sun Rising

Burial or Cremation

As an environmentally-aware organisation, we encourage burial rather than cremation. If you are looking for a funeral that makes the most sense for a nature-lover, for someone who strived to be eco-friendly, caring for the natural world, you may be interested in our sustainability choices chart below. This gives guidance so you can make decisions that are best for the planet.

Ashes can be interred after the cremation: see After a Cremation or get in touch.

Gatekeeper on Common Knapweed at Sun Rising

Using a Funeral Director

The majority of families use a funeral director to arrange and conduct a funeral at Sun Rising.  You may still wish to come to Sun Rising to choose the plot and talk through ideas.

Although we can't recommend any one in particular, we offer here a list of funeral directors local to Sun Rising. Those marked * have organised funerals at the burial ground. Those with more than one * use us regularly.

Allen and Sons
Owned by AL Sole of Chipping Norton
High Street, Moreton in Marsh, GL56 0AF
01608 650 633

* WJ Wright Funeral Directors
Independent funeral director
High Street, Bourton on the Water, GL54 2AP
Church Street, Stow on the Wold, GL54 1BB

* John White Funeral Directors
Independent funeral director
188 Watling Street East, Towcester, NN12 6DP
01327 359266

** A L Sole and Sons
Independent funeral director
Choice Hill Lane, Over Norton, Chipping Norton OX7 5PP
01608 644 112

** Edd Frost and Daughters
Independent funeral director
14 Canada Close, Banbury, OX16 2RT
01295 404004

* Funeralcare (Banbury)
Run by Co-op Funeralcare
122 Middleton Road, Banbury, Oxfordshire OX16 4QU
01295 272 207

** J and M Humphris
Independent funeral director
32 Albert Street, Banbury, Oxfordshire OX16 5DG
01295 265 424

*** R Locke and Sons
Independent funeral director
Caution Corner, Castle Hill Lane, Brailes, Oxfordshire OX15 5AZ
01608 685 274

* Reeves and Pain
Run by Dignity Funerals
22 Fairfax Centre, Kidlington, Oxfordshire OX5 2PB
01865 371159

The Individual Funeral Company
Independent funeral director
86 Rose Hill, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX4 4HX
01865 714130

** A E Bennett and Sons
Independent funeral director
34 Sheep Street, Stratford upon Avon, CV37 6EE
01789 267 035

* The Co-operative Funeral Services
Run by Co-op Funeralcare
38 Bilton Road, Rugby, CV22 7AL
01788 576 099

* D B Devall Funeral Services
Independent funeral director
2 Wembrook House, The Green, Attleborough, Nuneaton, CV11 4JZ
024 7637 5665

* H J Dawson
Run by Dignity Funerals
22 George Street, Leamington Spa, CV31 1ET
01926 427464

* W Goodwin and Sons
Independent funeral director
38 Coventry Street, Southam, CV47 0EP
01926 812445

* Hemming and Peace
Run by Funeral Partners
1A Brewery Street, Stratford upon Avon, CV37 0BQ
01789 205400

* Henry Ison and Son
Run by Funeral Partners
2 Leam Terrace, Leamington Spa, CV31 1BB
01926 339 444
22 Warwick Road, Kenilworth, CV8 1HE
01926 258626

*** R Locke and Sons
Independent funeral director
The Precinct, School Road, Wellesbourne, CV35 9NL
01789 840744

* A Pargetter and Sons
Independent funeral director
City Mews, Lamb Street, Coventry, CV1 4AE
0247 622 3343

** John Taylor Funeral Services
Run by Co-op Funeralcare
1 - 3 Russell Terrace, Leamington Spa, CV31 1EZ
01926 426 052
(also in Kenilworth, Warwick and Rugby)

* W G Rathbones
Run by Dignity Funerals
30 Clarendon Avenue, Leamington Spa, CV47 0EP
01926 425331
(also in Warwick)

* A Natural Undertaking
Independent funeral director
0121 444 0437 / 07986 423146

J Deeley and Son Funeral Directors
322 - 324 Kenilworth Road
Balsall Common, Coventry CV7 7ER
01676 534 237

* Dean Harper Funeral Directors
Independent funeral director
21 Lichfield Street, Walsall WS1 1TJ
01922 638855

* A B Taylors
Independent funeral director
49, Wolverhampton Rd South, Quinton, Birmingham B32 2AY
0121 434 4340

* V Morton and Sons
Independent funeral director
705 Bristol Road South, Birmingham B31 2JJ
0121 476 9111

* Thomas Brothers
Independent funeral director
494 Evesham Road, Redditch, B97 5JF
01527 547777

Funeralcare (Evesham)
Run by Co-op Funeralcare
30 Swan Lane, Evesham, WR11 4PD
01386 446188

Huntleys Funeral Services
58 Ipsley Street, Redditch, B98 7AE
01527 62106
12 Feckenham Road, Astwood Bank, Redditch, B96 6DS
01527 892900

Sun Rising's Simple Funeral Arrangement Service

At Sun Rising you don't need a funeral director - you can use our simple arrangement service instead.  For those who would like a simple funeral, we can do all the essentials, arranging a funeral that is graceful and family-oriented.

We have a range of ethical, beautiful, affordable coffins and shrouds.  We can provide a simple black hearsette, or our own VW van, or help a family if they'd like to bring the coffin to Sun Rising themselves.

If a family would like a celebrant, flowers, music, we can give guidance. Where family or friends would like to act as bearers, carrying the coffin to the graveside, we can walk them through, step by step, or the family can have the use of our coffin bier.

If you are considering our simple service, please do get in touch. We can either speak on the telephone, meet at the burial ground, or (if you are not far away) arrange a home visit. We can provide you with a quotation based on your own specific needs and wishes, and we can walk each step of the way with you, providing exactly the amount of support that feels right. And if it becomes clear that the services of a funeral director would in fact be useful, we can help the family choose the firm that is right for them and their needs.

DIY Funerals

Some families want to do it all themselves, buying the coffin themselves, laying out and bringing their loved one to the burial ground under their own steam. At Sun Rising, we can give guidance and support for fully DIY funerals, ascertaining where help or additional services may be needed, and providing these with discretion and sensitivity.  You may be interested in The Home Funeral Network.

Wild Rose at Sun Rising
Field Scabious and Agrimony at Sun Rising


Because embalming (or 'hygienic treatment') and its use of toxic chemicals is very seldom necessary, and because our ethos is to protect the environment and help the nature reserve to thrive, we regret that we are unable to accept embalmed bodies for burial at Sun Rising Natural Burial Ground. Similar policies are held by nearly all natural burial grounds.

The only time where we would bend our rules is where the deceased has been through a postmortem, or repatriation, and preserving chemicals may have necessarily been used. Get in touch with us if you have any queries.

Coffins and Shrouds

In accordance with our environmental and social ethics, we accept only biodegradable and environmentally-friendly coffins and shrouds at Sun Rising.  These include coffins made of willow, bamboo, banana leaf, cardboard and unvarnished pine.

Chipboard and MDF coffins with wood veneers contain the toxic chemical formaldehyde and are not permitted at Sun Rising, nor are varnished wooden coffins.

We are happy for someone to be interred in the beautiful simplicity of a handmade shroud of natural cloth, or indeed one of the beautifully crafted felt shrouds now available to buy.

Here is a selection of what is available. A good funeral director will be able to find these for you. Most coffin makers don't sell to the public. All will provide infant, baby and child sized coffins.

WillowWorkshop Coffin made for Sun Rising

Ecoffins are one of the older companies selling imported willow, fairtrade bamboo, pine and other coffins.

Gadsby & Son Coffins are an old basketmaking company dating back to the nineteenth century, based in Somerset, offering some beautiful coffins.

Musgrove Willow Coffins are another family firm, dating back to the 1920s making handmade English willow products.

Natural Woven Coffins import coffins from overseas made of various materials. Some of these we would be happy support, such as those made of banana leaves and coconut fibre. We are less confident of the environmental ethos of some other materials.

Somerset Willow is an old family firm making high quality English willow coffins. They are some of the most beautiful coffins on the market, offering the possibility of bands of softly coloured willow to add an extra touch of character.

Sussex Willow Coffins specialise in natural burial coffins. Made using English willow and other sustainably sourced native timber, their coffins are free of glue, boards and toxic substances. Crafted by a traditional willow basket maker in Sussex, all aspects of sourcing and design are carefully considered to make beautiful and ecologically sound coffins.

Tributes are a relatively recent company based in Sussex that produces willow coffins. Like Ecoffins, they import their products, maximiseing shipping efficiency. The coffins are produced by local villages and farms.

Feet First Coffins is a Milton Keynes firm hand-making solid wood coffins in the traditional way, all their wood coming from sustainable forestry sources or reclaimed timber.  A beautiful coffin, beautifully made.

Colourful Coffins mainly sell MDF veneered coffins, but they also have a good range of eco-friendly imported cardboard coffins. Their personalised service for coloured and patterned coffins is excellent.

Greenfield Creations is an environmentally-friendly English company that makes strong cardboard coffins that can be decorated to order with any chosen design or left very simple. The glues used in the coffin manufacture are water-based and non-toxic.

The Cardboard Coffin Company sell direct to the public. It may be that you will pay less if you buy through them than a funeral director, but that's not always the case. Certainly, this looks to be a better bet than many online options. It's a new project, so let us know if you have any experience of it.

Bellacouche create the most beautiful felt shrouds. A soft and embracing alternative to a coffin, they are environmentally sound. The thickness of the felt means that the body shape is not visible. No coffin is needed with these shrouds; they come complete with a sturdy base and handles and are made from locally sourced materials.

Respect has a made of bamboo fibre, with a bamboo base. The shroud is tied around the body, allowing the shape to more visible. The cost is a little less than a simple cardboard coffin. Shrouds

Cotton shrouds : FOR TOTAL SIMPLICITY AND ECONOMY it is always possible to be buried in a simple cotton shroud, or even cotton sheets, using a bamboo or willow base, or even simple planks bought from a timber yard or DIY store.  Please ask for further information if you are interested.

The Coffin Bier

It may be traditional for a coffin to be carried, usually shouldered by four or six men. However, sometimes family and friends would like to do it, but don't have the muscle power.  Some funeral directors no longer shoulder, for reasons of health and safety. Sometimes the person being laid to rest is just too heavy.

Our solution is our beautifully handcrafted wooden coffin bier. It will gently roll over the stone tracks and across the grassy meadow, pulled by one strong person, or two or three people who would do so with ease.  Or four or six can guide it across the burial ground, from the hearse to the roundhouse and from there to the graveside.

You will still need some strong individuals to lower the coffin at the graveside.

Coffin Bier at Sun Rising

Celebrants and Ministers

Some funerals at Sun Rising are conducted by a priest or minister, the arrangements being made by the family or funeral director.

For a non-religious service, the family may consider using a celebrant.  Their role is to create the formal structure of the funeral service.  They may write the eulogy too, helping the family pay their respects and say goodbye when minds are scattered by grief.

Here are some celebrants who have requested we list them. Those who have conducted funerals at Sun Rising are marked *, or ** for more regular celebrants. Let us know if you have any queries and we can guide you.

Handmade Leaf Bowl

Gillian Ayers-Hunt *
Civil Celebrant
07780 912240

Tricia Empson **
Civil Celebrant
07966 074076

Kim Finlayson **
Civil celebrant
01869 242693
07825 185848

Barry Fowkes **
Humanist celebrant
01295 268195
07527 869601

Russell Fowler **
Warm and caring independent celebrant
07580 127279

Philippa Howell *
Humanist celebrant
01242 583680
07564 521516

Jayne Hudson *
Bespoke, personal and pastoral service
07989 873131

Stephen Hughes *
Personal, dedicated celebrant
07787 421214

Blake Hutchings **
Creative and caring humanist celebrant
07736 310568

Peter James *
Kind-hearted independent celebrant
07938 682732
01295 264750

Robert Jelley *
Humanist celebrant
07763 005654

Ruth Jewell
Civil celebrant
07751 876807

Ruth Mackman
Civil Celebrant
07591 166551

Judy Mansfield **
Experienced independent celebrant
Cherish Ceremonies
07713 278699
01926 930393

Moira Pendlebury *
Warm and caring humanist celebrant
07944 892914

Alan Penny **
Independent celebrant and bereavement counsellor
02476 661089
07733 472489

Sylvie Summer **
Warm and sensitive humanist celebrant
01788 877568
07971 798245

Ian Willox **
Humanist celebrant
07973 221479

Alternatively, you may like to explore the humanist or registry.

Of course, some families choose not to use a celebrant at all.  In which case, we can give guidance or allow them the space to do as they wish.

A Funeral in the Roundhouse

The majority of funerals at Sun Rising hold the funeral or memorial services in our Roundhouse.  It holds around 45 people, with the coffin on trestles or the bier for the service. Guests can be sheltered from sunshine or rain while still being able to enjoy the beauty of the burial ground and its surrounding landscape.  With larger funerals, the extra people can stand on the surrounding tracks.

The wooden roof gives rich acoustics, perfect for music to be played, or those important prayers and tributes to be heard, even when voices are quiet and words softly spoken.

Screens can be used in inclement weather, to shield gatherings from wind and rain while allowing sunlight to filter through.

The Roundhouse at Sun Rising

Making a Funeral Personal

Some families want traditional and simple. Others are keen to explore whatever extras may be available to make the funeral personal. Here are some ideas.

As a natural burial ground and nature reserve, we have a strict policy on what kinds of floral tributes can be placed.  Please see our dedicated page.

Many love the idea of throwing flowers or petals onto the coffin at the time of the committal. Of course, it is always possible to buy fresh flowers, but here is an option for dried rose petals:

Rosy Posy Petals **
Tel : 01926 817183
Louise grows all her own roses in her garden in South Warwickshire, drying them naturally in the soft sunshine. They are not only local, then, but entirely eco-friendly. Petals come in many different colours, from deep red to sunny yellows. She does sometimes run out at the end of the winter, but it's always worth asking.

If you are arranging for a funeral tea, either somewhere local or at Sun Rising (for example, hiring a marquee and keeping the whole event in one place), you may like to use a local caterer.

Anna Jackson Catering **
Tel : 01295 738469
Anna is based a few miles from Sun Rising and well used to catering for funerals of any style or size.

Beverley Web Catering **
Tel: 01608 661858 or 07774 836071
Delicious teas from Shipston-based caterer, used to providing delicious food in marquees and village halls.

The Balloon Lady **
Tel : 01608 683521
Penny can provide fully biodegradable balloons that allow release of helium balloons again to be part of a celebration while not compromising entirely environmental ethics.

There are only a few respected organisations for dove releases locally. These use trained homing pigeons who can make their way home quickly and safely once released at Sun Rising. It is easy to find cheap alternatives who use doves with no homing skills that will be eaten by foxes or starve to death. Always use a respectable organisation.

True Love Doves **
Tel : 07725 034030
True Love have healthy and beautiful birds, much loved by their professional keeper, Mick Friar.

Wings of White **
Tel : 07836 635989
Another well reputed organisation with well-trained birds.

Andy King the Piper **
Tel : 07773 476775
Andy is a splendidly presented piper who can bring Irish or Scottish bagpipes and a range of classic and appropriate tunes to bring that special touch to a funeral.

Steve Duffy **
Tel : 01295 252 375
Another beautifully turned out and kilted piper, offering a range of pipes and tunes for a funeral with that Celtic touch.

We also have on our books a local Harpist.

It is not necessary to have a hearse for a funeral, or not a traditional one. Our recommended alternative is a hearsette - an ordinary black estate car, specially adapted with a 'coffin deck', which is economical in price and fuel. We can make arrangements for this. However, if you are looking for something more unusual, here are some options.

Motorcycle Funerals Ltd
Tel : 01530 274888
This organisation have a number of motorcycles (Triumph, Harley, Suzuki) with sidecar adapted to be used as hearses. Budget for £600-£800.

Horse Drawn Funerals
Tel : 07967 012093
This is a beautiful option at the natural burial ground. It can be expensive, and is not an environmental solution other than for local funerals (the horse and carriage will need to be transported to a point more locally for a short procession).

Shipston Taxis **
Tel : 01608 661592 / 07976 231154
Mike Bristoe is based at Shipton on Stour. He has a larger vehicles to bring small parties or individuals over to Sun Rising at affordable prices.

Light as a Feather Funeral Photography
Tel : 07411 286629
This is a fairly new idea, but some find it valuable to have a collection of photographs of a funeral, either for their own memories or to send to family and friends who are unable to attend. Damian has a gallery of photographs on his website to give you an idea of what is possible.

Tudor Photography **
Tel : 01295 270681
Tel : 07774 408 408960
Harry Rhodes is a vibrant photographer with an enormous experience of capturing events. His website is comprehensive, but doesn't show funeral photographs.


For families organising funerals at Sun Rising Natural Burial Ground, or wanting a place for a quiet drink or something to eat when visiting the site, here are a few local resources that may be of value.

Charingworth Manor, nr Chipping Camden
Tel : 01386 593555
Fourteenth century manor with over 50 acres of beautiful countryside, this country hotel is an expensive but exceptional venue. Some 14 miles west of the burial ground.

Ettington Chase Hotel, Ettington
Tel : 01789 740000
A country hotel and conference centre that would meet the needs of a funeral party beautifully if organised in advance. The hotel is around 10 - 15 minute drive north of the burial ground, and can cater for anything from tea and cakes in the public lounge to a full meal in a private dining room.

Ettington Park Hotel, Ettington
Tel : 01789 450123
This honeyed Cotswold stone mansion is the only AA four red star hotel in the Stratford area. Architecturally stunning, it has beautiful private rooms and 40 acres of parkland for a celebration of life. Afternoon tea can be booked with a choice of 13 teas. It is located 16 minutes by car to the west of Sun Rising.

The Halford Bridge, Halford
Tel : 01789 748217
An elegant country pub with a quiet private function room, with beams and courtyard. The staff are friendly and helpful, with a flexible attitude. The accommodation is spacious if staying overnight would make things easier. It is simple to find on the Fosse Way, just 7 miles from the burial ground.

Mallory Court Hotel, Harbury
Tel : 01926 330214
A beautiful country house hotel in ten acres of tranquil grounds around 15 miles north east of the burial ground. An expensive option which may suit some funeral parties perfectly.

The George Townhouse, Shipston on Stour
Tel : 01608 661453
A newly refurbished country pub in the heart of the small market town of Shipston, about 10 miles west of the burial ground, quiet, spacious and elegant.

NB: some country pubs are closed on Mondays, and may be closed at lunchtime during the winter months. However, this may mean they are willing to do a private function for you when otherwise they would be closed. Do call in advance.

The Bell, Shenington **
Tel : 01295 670274
A lovely small old fashioned Cotswold pub with very good food and comfortable B&B accommodation. Around ten minutes drive south of the burial ground.

The Castle Inn, Edge Hill **
Tel : 01295 670255
An eighteenth century castellated pub above Radway on the cliff top looking out over the civil war battle grounds of Edge Hill. Under new management since September 2013, it offers space for a meal or tea in side rooms overlooking the glorious Warwickshire view. The pub is around five minutes drive, up the hill, south east of the burial ground.

The Chequers, Ettington **
Tel : 01789 740387
On the A422 heading towards Stratford, just past the Fosse Way, this is a well managed pub about 5 miles or ten minutes drive from Sun Rising.

The Falcon, Warminster **
Tel : 01295 692120
A comprehensively refurbished pub, which used to be The Wobbly Wheel, located on the B4100, about 6 miles from Sun Rising. Spacious with its own style, with small rooms, open areas and a large garden.

The Inn, Farnborough **
Tel : 01295 690615
Just the other side of Edge Hill to the east of the burial ground, this is a lovely country pub with verygood food and B&B accommodation. They are flexible and happy to cater for funeral teas.

The Peacock Inn, Tysoe **
Tel : 01295 680338
A friendly informal pub in the nearest village to Sun Rising, just a mile to the west of the site.

The Peacock, Oxhill **
Tel : 01295 688060
A country pub in the style of a new bistro pub, the proprietors are very happy to cater for funerals.  A few miles north of the burial ground.

The Rose and Crown, Ratley
Tel : 01295 678148
Another twelfth century pub, in the rich golden Hornton stone, this is a small and cosy place with big fireplaces and a sense of local community. It has a simple pub menu. Around ten minutes drive south east.

The Royal Oak, Whatcote **
Tel : 01295 680319 / 0781 7549998
A twelfth century pub newly refurbished around 4 miles north west of Sun Rising.

Compton Verney ** is a beautiful Warwickshire country house just six miles from Sun Rising, offering a very special venue for a funeral, either for a non-religious service or for a gathering after the committal. Don't be put off by its apparently grandeur: there are four options, from the main hall that can hold 120 people, to a small room for a more intimate tea. In summertime, you can also use the lakeside lawns. Compton Verney has its own caterers, with a good range of options at different prices, and is licensed with its own bar.
Tel : 01926 645521

The Royal Pump Rooms & Jephson’s is on The Parade in Leamington Spa (CV32 4AA), and offers space for funeral teas or more substantial meals. Have a look at this pdf they have sent us, but do call - the pdf may be out of date.
T: 01926 311978
Pump Rooms Funeral Package

Tysoe Tea Rooms ** is a wonderful place in the centre of Tysoe, next to the village stores. For families coming from a distance, it is an ideal place for a cuppa and slice of cake, inside or in their little garden at the back. It is also open for funeral teas, where a gathering can be catered for with beautiful English country style. Do call beforehand, because opening hours can be unpredictable.
Tel : 01295 688333

Redwings Horse Rescue Centre ** can be found along the main A422, a few miles north of the burial ground. Not only a good place to stretch legs, letting tired children stroke the horses, donkeys and ponies, but the Rescue Centre has a little cafe as well, selling simple snacks and drinks. It is open everyday from 9 am - 5 pm from April to the end of October, with restricted opening hours (9.30 am - 3 pm) in November to March, closed on Thursdays and Fridays.
Tel: 08700 040 0033

The Tysoe Village Hall ** is another option for a simple funeral or smaller budget.
Tel: Jacqui Franklin on : 01295 680632 or 680051 (eve)

The Old Methodist Chapel ** is a beautiful former chapel in Oxhill, 2 miles from the burial ground. It is no longer used as a consecrated building, but retains the serenity and grace.
Tel: Rev Jill Tucker on 01295 680663 or