If you want to be buried in Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire, you’ll find the fees attractive but the rules, perhaps, restrictive. The parish council has placed a ban on coffins made from wicker, cardboard, bamboo or cotton. See the full document here.
Why so? It has been suggested to us that badgers may be at the bottom of this: that the parish council wants to disincentivise them from digging up the dead. We have not been able to verify this so, to be absolutely fair, we have to declare that we have no idea why certain coffins are preferred and others deterred.
If it turns out that badgers are the culprits responsible for this bureaucratic interference with the rights of Brits to bury their dead in anything they darn well please (so long as it doesn’t outrage public decency), where is the evidence that they dig up the dead?
The diet of yer average badger comprises mostly earthworms and leatherjackets. But they are also known to predate on hedgehogs, lambs and rabbits.
They are also known to take carrion.
Including the flesh of dead humans? Well, not to our knowledge, and we’ve done a fair amount of digging over the years to get to the bottom of this myth. Even those burial grounds that commendably bury shallow report no incursions by foxes and badgers. Simply, the theory goes, nature’s larder affords them tastier fare. Where badgers have dug up dead people in burial grounds this has been in the course of ‘clumsy’ pursuit of their normal diet. Their disturbance of the dead has been inadvertent — they have merely shouldered them aside.
Have Cambridgeshire’s badgers moved the goalposts? We have invited Fowlmere Parish Council to account for its ban on certain coffins, and you can, too. The name of the clerk to the council is Mrs Jackie Wright and her email address is
The parish council will next meet on 17 December, and Mrs Wright has undertaken to draw the attention of the councillors to an email I sent on 21 November asking to know why they have banned ‘eco’ coffins. You may wish to do the same.
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