Many people think that when they die there are only limited options about what can happen to their body. Although it is true that the regulations surrounding burials and cremations are primarily there to ensure public health, they are not as restrictive as you might have thought. For one thing, you don’t have to be buried in a cemetery or graveyard if you choose not to be. Burials at sea, as well as eco funerals on private land, are permitted, for example. Indeed, so long as your home fulfils the relevant criteria, you can be buried on your own property, if you wish. There are numerous home burials in the UK each year these days.
Read on to find out what arranging one would entail and whether or not a home burial is something you’d consider.
Dealing With the Authorities
Seeking professional advice is always worth it with home burials. According to Newrest Funerals, a funeral service provider that operates throughout the UK, this is because different councils have very different interpretations of the rules on home burial services. For example, some will insist that planning permission is sought before a garden plot can be used for a burial. Others will want to see a change of usage application. Certainly, you will be more likely to have to seek permission from the local authority if you intend on erecting a permanent marker, such as a monument or a mausoleum. Low-impact home burials with a simple marker may elicit a more favourable response from the council but it very much depends on where you live.
Note that under the Registration of Burials Act of 1864, the presence of the grave will have to be noted on the deeds of the property wherever in the country you live. In addition, you will need to obtain a certificate from the local registrar’s office that says the burial can take place at home.
Not all properties are suited to home burials. Smaller gardens and flats with only shared open spaces are generally not appropriate locations. The land you own should have a low water table and be away from any existing waterways, ditches and drainage installations. The Environment Agency may object to a home burial based on any of those features being nearby. Equally, you need to ensure that there are no electrical wires or gas pipes anywhere close to the burial plot.
Excavating a Grave
Typically, home burials will involve hiring a local gravedigger but you can always do this job yourself. The regulations for home burials require there to be a metre of soil, as opposed to bedrock, beneath the grave and for there to be at least a metre of soil above the body, as well. As such, you’ll need to dig down approximately two and a half metres for a typical home burial. That’s a lot of work and something that can be unsafe if you don’t know what you’re doing. The use of a mini-digger can be handy for digging graves but, again, it is often best to turn to a professional instead of attempting to use one for the first time.
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