Category Archives: coffins

Coffin Supplier of the Year 2017

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Another category with just a small number of finalists this year, the coffin supplier of the year choice is very much influenced by the testimonials received from clients.

Overwhelming support from many of the businesses supplied by one of the finalists meant that the judges were convinced they had a clear winner. Most testimonials referenced both the quality of their coffins and the supportive professional staff equally, which, in the judges’ opinion, is a very good combination.

Winner:  Ecoffins

Runner up: Earth to Heaven

 

Photograph by Jayne Lloyd

The 2017 Good Funeral Awards were generously sponsored by Greenfield Creations

 

Special Award for Innovation 2017

Friday, 15 September 2017

‘The judges decided to introduce an additional award not listed as a category in the 2017 awards, in response to an entry for the Most Significant Contribution to the Understanding of Death.

This award is going to a product which, in the judges’ opinion, will impact positively on the experience of bereaved families by encouraging much closer involvement in the design and creation of the coffin.

This product has been designed to bring family members and close friends together in the shared experience of directly participating in the design and creation of a truly personalised coffin.

It turns the coffin into a focal point for celebrating the life of the deceased and enables a far greater number of people to come together to contribute to the final appearance of the coffin.

We feel that this new concept in coffin design will bring about really positive benefits for those families who choose it, and applaud the insight and innovation of those behind it.

This award is going to J. C. Atkinson for the Pathway coffin

 

Photograph by Jayne Lloyd

The 2017 Good Funeral Awards were generously sponsored by Greenfield Creations

 

Material choices

Saturday, 5 August 2017

 

Willow, cardboard, veneer. Wool, even. The material in which we choose to be buried may be imbued with cultural, emotional or traditional significance.

We have the benefit of access to so many superb suppliers. We know the options are highly varied now, as are the means of interment. It is important that we don’t take this knowledge for granted, though, being intimately acquainted with our own industry’s gamut of possibilities.

For many families – irrespective of religion – the assumption is that a wooden coffin will be involved. This has long been the case and the exposition of a coffin in Durham this month will do much to assuage any doubts about the benefits of choosing high quality products.

St. Cuthbert’s coffin went on display in Durham cathedral. Hermit; bishop; the saint who inspired the Lindisfarne Gospels. Cuthbert died in 687, probably from tuberculosis, but his body was exhumed relatively shortly after death to be reburied in this coffin, which was made from English oak: tests have confirmed it was manufactured (‘crafted by artisans’ is probably a less anachronistic term), on Lindisfarne in 698.

However, it was lifted again, in 1104, and reopened several times thereafter to allow viewings of the remains. While it was interred for a short time behind the altar of the catherdral, it was also disturbed again – allowing new bacteria in to have their effect on the wood, each time – in the 19th century. This is a coffin that has truly served its purpose. 

Some environments are more forgiving than others. Soil and humidity conditions have an impact; acidity is also an influence. If wood has been heavily varnished, that preservative may act as a moisture-barrier for years. Deterioration depends on the material that a coffin or container is made of and the environment it’s resting in, and archaeologists have even found Roman coffins in reasonable condition. 

It surely behoves us to be transparent about the nature of materials used, and what the reality of material degradation is. Sadly, it’s still a matter of record that families may be offered non-ethical products for use in woodland or natural burials.

But perhaps, tongue in cheek, we can now offer a rather more positive caveat when it comes to ‘how long will it last?’

Bridging the Gap Award

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

24-julian-atkinson-bridging-the-gap-award

Julian Atkinson, managing director of J. C. Atkinson & Son

The ‘Bridging the Gap’ award was introduced this year specifically to acknowledge the work being done by this particular industry supplier who is doing the most to move the funeral business forward.

Julian Atkinson was given this special award in response to the way his company, J. C Atkinson & Sons Ltd, traditionally a manufacturer of wooden coffins has embraced new, greener products into his range.

Wicker, willow, wool, banana leaf and cardboard products to name a few, coffins made from these materials are often branded as ‘alternative products’, but have now started to become accepted as the norm at funerals.

Along with offering such coffins for sale, J. C. Atkinson’s has invested time and money in educating the funeral industry, encouraging the provision of greener products as part of the normal range, making it easier for families to have a wide variety of choice and enabling individuals to have the type of coffin most suited to them, not just a choice from a selection of veneered or highly polished hardwood coffins for their love one.

Julian’s work in this area has been a large part of the reason other smaller, ‘alternative’ manufacturers have been able to bridge the gap across the funeral industry and enable the public to be given a far wider choice as a whole.

I can’t afford to die so now I sell coffins on Norwich Market

Monday, 12 September 2016

Borca Wicker Baskets & Coffins

Guest post by Ruth Phelps of www.borca.co.uk

I opened my stall on Norwich Market in January 2016 and stock sustainably-resourced willow, green ash and rush baskets from household laundry baskets to bike and log and picnic hampers and much more. I additionally stock Fairtrade baskets from Palestine and seek to expand Fairtrade products.

Three months ago, in one of those middle-of-the-night mad idea moments, I decided to sell willow bio-degradable coffins direct to the public. It was an experiment. I decorated with flowers and displayed a big 6’ 6” willow coffin outside my stall.

I wasn’t sure what to expect but hundreds of people from all over the country as well as overseas and locals have stopped to congratulate me on selling coffins in a very visible way and attracted by the price which undercuts Funeral Directors’ charges for something similar by hundreds of pounds. Most of the public, like me, also see the coffin on display as a mechanism to de-stigmatise a topic many are uncomfortable discussing and promote that discourse. The local BBC & Mustard TV came to film and I was featured in the Eastern Daily Press. BBC Radio Norfolk tell me that nearly 17,000 had accessed the feature on their Facebook page within a few days.

Sales are going well with half of my customers buying a coffin to store or to give to family to store and/or make into funky furniture in the meantime. The coffins are being turned into coffee tables, wardrobes and shelving units. My favourite idea is to use one as a wine-storage cupboard.

All the coffins meet the criteria for crematorium, natural and traditional cemeteries in the UK and are environmentally friendly and sustainable products. Of course, many willow, bamboo, seagrass and cardboard coffins are also available on the internet but many with few guarantees. I’ve found that people like to see what they are buying, can see the quality and are assured of a very competitive price from a supplier they know.

We live in a time where a death pre-payment plan is considered the norm; where folk get into debt to see a loved one off at a very vulnerable time of their lives. We live in a time where the only avenue seen by many for saying ‘good-bye’ is through the services of a funeral director and the costs keep spiralling up and up.  Who can afford to die?

Whilst there will always be a demand for the usually excellent and sensitive services of a Funeral Director, increasingly people are objecting to the steep costs and are looking at DIY alternatives for all or part of the process. Environmentally, bio-degradable coffins and caskets make complete sense and natural burial sites are more and more popular although cremation still remains the cheaper option. Additionally, many people have said to me that they feel more in control and like choosing a coffin themselves in advance of the inevitable.

Some will donate their bodies to science and who knows how the disposal of bodies will be managed in future decades. But with a shortage of land and the planet in such peril from man-made global warming, a bio-degradable coffin at a more affordable fair price seems a small step in the right direction.

Borca Traditional Willow Coffin

Introducing the Pebblewood Urn

Sunday, 15 May 2016

IMG_1320s

 

Davina Kemble’s pebblewood coffin was unveiled at the Ideal Death Show 2013. Reviews were mixed. Some undertakers thought it would be impossible to persuade a dead person to conform to its rounded shape; others reckoned there was no problem. Since then, Davina’s partnership with her manufacturer reached a conclusion, but she’s carried on working away at it and a full-size pebble-shaped coffin will soon be on the market.

In the meantime, she has just launched her pebble-shaped ashes urn. It is taking off nicely. She is selling direct to the public through Etsy – here – and of course she’d be pleased to hear from discerning undertakers. Davina’s website is here and her Facebook page here.

Hats off to Davina. She’s stuck the course – she’s done what she’s had to do and seen it through without exemption, etc. There have been forbidding lows that would have done for most of us.

Here at the GFG-Batesville Shard the consensus is that Davina’s pebble urns are rare and lovely. We hope you like them, too.

Boxing clever

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

co13-960x670

 

It’s not just Donald Trump who gives Americans an undeserved reputation for dangerous lunacy. Restrictive practices in the US funeral industry have been doing that for years.

In Alabama the owner of a natural burial ground is currently fighting the state law that allows only licensed funeral directors to sell coffins. The burial ground owner, Sheila Champion, said: “I could make you a cedar chest and sell it to you all day long as a piece of furniture; however, if you call me and ask me to make you a coffin using the same pattern, I could be prosecuted.” – here

Fighting her corner for her is the fearsomely libertarian Institute for Justice which, in 2013, fought for the right of St Joseph’s Abbey to sell their monk-made coffins to the public. It took them 6 years – here.

Over in Poland the coffin maker Lindner – famous for its naughty calendars – has brought out a naughty flat-pack coffin and it’s (according to the Telegraph) been damned as unethical by the Polish Chamber of Funeral Homes on the grounds that “Treating a coffin like an ordinary piece of furniture or a DIY-cupboard from a shop undermines respect for the deceased.”

Here in the UK hardly an undertakerly eyebrow is raised any more if a client says they’re buying their own coffin on the internet. Some of them are paying more than the FD would have charged them. In Nottingham, AW Lymn charges nothing (zilch nada) for a cardboard coffin.

Last week here at the GFG-Batesville Shard, where we’re all working our butts off to impress the new gaffer, we received an email from someone who can’t get hold of a woodchip veneer coffin for anything like as little as £150. We’d like to help her, and anyone else who wants to buy an inexpensive veneer coffin. What’s the cost price of these nowadays? Sixty, seventy quid? Any coffin maker out there willing to keep us supplied, please get in touch.

 

A fitting tribute to Sir Donald Sinden

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

IMG_9005
 
Posted by Andy Clarke and Holly Bridgestock-Perris

On 11 September the world lost one its finest actors of screen and stage. Sir Donald Sinden died at home at the age of 90 following a prolonged battle with cancer.

The national press has given praise for his extensive work and his contribution to British acting. They have fully covered his career and extolled his acting successes over the past 7 decades.

Sir Donald will be remembered for his various stage appearances from comedy (There’s a Girl in my Soup, 1966-1973) to various Shakespearean characters in numerous film productions and, more recently, playing alongside Martin Shaw in BBC’s Judge John Deed.

Sir Donald’s funeral service was held at a small village church miles from the busy west end where he was a regular visitor. Friends and family gathered at St John the Baptist in Wittersham, near Tenterden in Kent to say farewell to the great man.

The Sindens are neighbours of ours and Sir Donald was a very popular and highly respected member of our community. Locally he will be remembered for his happy manner and friendly smiles in the High Street of Tenterden and surrounding villages. Quite often I would hear his distinctive voice booming across the aisles of our local Waitrose as he chatted with staff and other customers alike.

Sir Donald was also a supporter of local arts – he was patron of the Barn Theatre Company based at the Ellen Terry Barn Theatre at Smallhythe Place and supporter of Homewood School drama department who named their theatre after him.

He also supported the local community in many other ways. I remember well, one year, running into Donald at Stone village fair where he was master of ceremonies and resident judge and prize awarder – in his best Shakespearean theatrical voice presiding over best Victoria sponge and largest marrow. A delight to the ears!

As such, we were delighted to be asked by his son, actor and director Marc Sinden, if we could provide a hand-painted Curve Coffin for Sir Donald in the distinctive “Salmon and Cucumber” colours of the Garrick Club in London which Sir Donald frequented.

We are delighted that the story was covered by local press.

 

donald-sinden_1290325c

 

And the coffin was made by… Greenfield

Friday, 31 January 2014

Garden (2)

 

You saw it here first. Yeah, well okay, you first saw it here. Hayley’s coffin was, we can now reveal, made by Will Hunneybel and his team at Greenfield Creations.

As I write, (9.08) you could boil an egg on Will’s servers and the GFG coffins page is going bananas.

A good day for the empowered funeral shopper.

 

The makes-you-proud-to-be-British way of death

Thursday, 2 January 2014

hospital_1829150c

 

Alice Pitman, in the Christmas edition of the Oldie magazine, describes her extremely unwell 88 year-old mother rising to the occasion in hospital: 

Eventually a porter came and perfunctorily wheeled her to theatre. [We] followed down an interminably long corridor, the Aged P issuing instructions over her shoulder about what we were to do if she didn’t make it. Her will was in her knicker drawer. She wanted to be buried, not cremated. “I want the worms to eat me!” she exclaimed with reckless candour (a couple waiting for the lift looked horrified). “Don’t waste money on an expensive coffin. One of those cheap wicker ones will do. Oh, and no church service. I’m 99 per cent certain God doesn’t exist. In fact, scrap the funeral altogether. I don’t want one…” “It’s not up to you!” said [my husband], his stiff upper lip betraying a quiver of emotion. 

FOOTNOTE: Though her doctors abandon all hope for her, she survives. 

 

Page 1 of 1412345...10...Last »