TEL: Eversholt Street: 020 7387 6075, Golders Green: 020 8455 4992, Gospel Oak: 020 7485 1969, Hampstead: 020 7586 4221, Kentish Town: 020 7485 1266, Muswell Hill: 020 8444 5753
The Leverton family has been arranging funerals for people in this part of London since 1789. Yes, they’re now into their eighth generation; they’re steeped in heritage, drenched in history. This makes them an attractive-seeming proposition. After all, a good old family business is exactly what most of us hope to find when we’re looking for a proper funeral director.
What you don’t want, though, is a barnacled, backwards-looking business existing in a dusty Dickensian time warp, the sort of place where everything is done as it always was. Heritage is good, obsolescence is bad.
Leverton’s, we are delighted to tell you, is not a firm that sits complacently on its laurels. It is not only progressive and dynamic, it is also, as you will see, excitingly innovative. Leverton’s may look back with satisfaction and pride on a distinguished past, but it looks to the future with purpose and energy. This is an intelligent, modern business. It needs to be. Demographics in London alter very quickly and an undertaker needs to be able to respond to and meet the diverse, ever-changing needs of all the different communities in their area.
The current directors are both Levertons, cousins Pippa and Andrew both came into the business after studying and working in other fields. They are both lovely, down to earth people who work alongside their staff – there are no airs and graces about them. The previous generation, (their respective fathers) Clive and Keith Leverton are both retired, although Clive hasn’t exactly taken retirement seriously, he’s still to be found at Eversholt Street pretty much every day.
It is really evident that everyone here loves their work – many of the people we spoke to told us that their role was not like a job, it was a way of life. And the sense of everyone at Leverton’s being part of a family is palpable, not just among the people who have partners or relatives also working here. There is an easy familiarity and sense of trust and confidence in the staff that comes from being part of a strongly bonded team, and this is something that only happens when the people at the top value and appreciate everyone who they employ.
Just in case you’ve picked up on the fact that Leverton’s has been chosen to do some extremely prestigious funerals (it has), do not, please, suppose that it is extremely expensive, that it’s the undertaker of choice for ‘them’ not ‘us’. Nothing could be further from the truth. Leverton’s looks after all the people in this part of London, whoever they are, whatever their needs. What’s more, they treat everyone exactly the same.
So if you’re on a budget, you won’t find them expensive. If you want to arrange a very simple funeral, or a direct cremation, they’re there for you. They are very open. They are one of far too few undertakers who post their prices on their website.
There are six branches. Headquarters is at Camden Town in a fine building in Eversholt Street. It’s a homely, friendly old place where you feel agreeably removed from the bustle of everyday life. You will meet your funeral director and make your arrangements in one of the rooms downstairs. You won’t go upstairs — but we did, because we insist on going everywhere and seeing everything. This is where all the funeral directors work amid historic portraits of Levertons. And it’s where Allan, the logistics maestro, organises the people and the cars, etc, for upcoming funerals.
Whoever comes down the stairs to greet you will probably be the person who looks after you all the way through the funeral – there are no ‘funeral arrangers’ here, everyone is a funeral director (apart from Yvonne and Hannah who look after different aspects of the business) and whoever looks after you will have all the skills and experience you need.
The branches — at Golders Green, Gospel Oak, Hampstead, Kentish Town and Muswell Hill are smaller and looked after by just one person with whom you’ll arrange the funeral, and who will most probably conduct it on the day (unless they are on holiday or off sick) Levertons do everything they can to ensure that one funeral director looks after you all the way from making the arrangement to being there on the day of the funeral — a big, big plus point.
At Golders Green, the funeral director is Drew Rush. Drew is a gentle and lovely man, who came to work for Leverton’s from a previous career in retail banking. He joined the company as a part time driver see years ago, and his attributes and aptitude led to him being given the opportunity to become a funeral director and look after the branch at Golders Green around four years ago. Drew clearly loves his work, he loves the variety of every day and being in a position to offer every family the chance to do whatever they want for their funeral.
The funeral director at Gospel Oak is Martin Healy. Martin’s been with the company for almost 30 years, and is known by pretty much everyone in town. He has looked after thousands of families over the years, many coming back to him when other relatives die. We can see why, Martin’s easy manner and the air of confidence gained from all his experience must be incredibly comforting to those who’ve experienced a death of someone close.
The Hampstead branch is looked after by the delightful Kathryn Isherwood. Kathryn worked as a phlebotomist in her previous life, but when her mother died something resonated with her when making the funeral arrangements, and she found herself applying for a position with a funeral company near the hospital where she worked. She spent years with them, first as a funeral arranger and then as a funeral conductor, but the disconnect between the two roles was something she never felt comfortable with. She applied for a position with Leverton’s but there was no vacancy at that time, so she continued working for the large corporate company despite the stress of her role. Seven years later, she had a call out of the blue asking her if she was still interested – true to his word, the director had kept her application on file. This is so typical of Leverton’s – they keep their word, and in this instance it paid of for both the company and Kathryn. She has now looked after the Hampstead branch for around three years, and says ‘it was like coming home. I couldn’t be happier.’
At Kentish Town you’ll find Barry White. Barry’s been the funeral director here for around two years, although like Drew he began working for Leverton’s years ago as a part time driver. Formerly a postman, and born and bred in the area, Barry knows his part of town like the back of his hand, and he is very much part of the community here. He’s a kind and conscientious man – when we called in to see him we didn’t stop long as he needed to ensure that every detail of the funerals he had just arranged were attended to and recorded on the paperwork and computer system. He’s been known to come back into the office in the evening just to make sure everything has been done before the next day begins. We felt that you will be in the safest of hands here.
The Muswell Hill branch is looked after by Deborah Rush. Deborah was formerly a practice manager at a busy Harley Street eye clinic, and has been with Leverton’s for around three years. She’s exceptionally kind and caring, with a real insight into the fact that people may be ‘not themselves’ when she meets them for the first time. She also goes out of her way to make sure that everything possible is done to help people who are struggling, whether this is practically, physically or emotionally. When we met her she was worrying about a client who had no family or friends supporting her and who was finding the approaching funeral of her only relative terribly difficult. Deborah’s approach was empathetic and practical, and she’d been busy making contact with the local vicar and social services to try and get some help in place for her. This is not something that your average funeral director would take on themselves, but then Deborah, like all of the Leverton’s funeral directors, is not average at all.
People who have died are driven to the mortuary at Chalk Farm. There, they are looked after by Peter, Tony and their team, and made ready for their funeral. If you want to visit the person who has died, they will be driven from there to your branch. If you want to play your part in washing and dressing them, you can, by arrangement, go down to Chalk Farm and they will either help you or leave you to it — whatever you want. They’ll be delighted to see you and support in you in any way they can. And they make an excellent cup of tea.
The mortuary, for us, is the most important part of any funeral firm. It is the heart of the business, the place which embodies its values and ethos. We were very impressed by what we saw. It is bright, spotless, professionally equipped and staffed by the right sort of people.
We spent time talking to people who work here, especially Peter and Tony. You’ll probably never meet them, but what they do is incredibly important. And don’t they know it. Both of them are people of great heart who take their work extremely seriously. Standards of care are very high. They live round here, and every once in a while someone they know comes in to be looked after. Everyone is treated with kindness and respect — everybody is ‘one of us’. Peter and Tony are both rounded characters whose strong seriousness is harnessed to an excellent sense of humour. They are precisely the sort of people you would want them to be.
Everyone we met at Leverton’s was impressive. The staff are dedicated and passionate about what they do, and the company clearly brings out the best in everyone they employ. This eighth generation business is solid and forward looking, and obviously a pleasure to work for, so they attract the best people. Which means, in turn, that the families who choose them will get the best service.
If it’s a traditional funeral you want, they’ll do it very well and very smartly in the classic Victorian style. Though prestigious, Leverton’s are not as showy and flamboyant as some London funeral directors. If you would like something less formal they will willingly adjust to what you want.
Leverton’s is keen to tread lightly on the earth, and as testament to this commitment it is the owner of the country’s very first electric hearse. Clive Leverton invested a huge amount of time and money to work with Brahms Electric Vehicles designing and developing the Eco-Hearse, and many of Leverton’s families choose to use it and it’s accompanying passenger eco-car rather than have a traditional gas guzzling cortege.
Leverton’s is forward-looking in all sorts of other interesting ways, too. For example, it is the only funeral director’s offering highly specialised makeup for people who have died — only if you want it, of course. A former director of the company, Richard Putt, is a trustee of the Natural Death Centre, which campaigns for greener funerals, and he has left his imprint on Leverton’s approach to funerals in general.
Leverton’s is not innovative for the sake of it. They want to offer the widest range of choice they can allied to the highest-quality personal service. You are in charge: they’ll do what you ask, and they’ll do it to the best of their ability.
Everyone here is down-to-earth — nice, normal, broadminded. Funeral directors can tend to be somewhat, well, pompous, but not here. There is a very agreeable modesty about all of them — it’s something of a hallmark — and this, of course, makes things so much easier for you.
• Your first call will be answered during office hours, by a funeral director or an experienced member of staff – never a call centre.
• Home Visits – They will happily come and see you at home to make arrangements if you would like that.
• Embalming – They will discuss this with you. Embalming can make people who have died look more themselves, but if you don’t want it, just say so. They won’t pressure you.
• Continuity of Care – It is almost certain that the person with whom you arrange the funeral, bar sickness or holiday, will lead the cortege on the day – there will be no stranger who’s taken over. If it can’t, for some reason, be that person, the funeral director who will be in charge on the day will introduce him/herself well in advance. If, when you call, the manager of the branch is away (possibly conducting a funeral), the person who is covering will make arrangements with you and either conduct the funeral or introduce you to the funeral director who will. The important point is that someone you know will be there for you on the day.
• Family Participation – If you want to carry the coffin, they’ll show you how. This is something they encourage. If you’d like to come in and wash and dress the person who has died, they’ll be there for you. If you’d just like to come in do their hair and nails, that’s absolutely no problem. They believe in empowering you to do what you want and they’ll help you in any way they can.
• Same sex person to wash and dress? – Yes, if you want. No problem. Just ask.
• Ethnic Specialism – They are highly experienced in all funeral customs.
• Local Celebrants – Excellent local celebrants to choose from if you do not want a religious minister.
• Home arranged funerals – Will gladly work with you in any way you want if you wish to care for the person who has died at home: see the Do It All Yourself section of the Good Funeral Guide website.
• Website – Comprehensive information well set out. All prices shown here. An unusually well-written website which reflects humanity and lack of pretension. You can also see photos of all of the staff.
• Client Support – They have an online book of remembrance which gives you the opportunity of collecting money for a chosen charity. If you want to be put in touch with a bereavement support group they will make that happen for you. After the funeral, call in anytime for a cuppa – they’ll always be pleased to see you.
• Money matters – Competitively priced. If money is any sort of a problem, be completely upfront about it and they’ll be able to give you all the help they can.
Down-to-earth, very decent people who will, with kindness, care and invisible expertise, help you create exactly the funeral you want. There aren’t many funeral directors who give their clients as much time as the Leverton’s team. Very nice people.
Any decisions you take on engaging the services of a funeral director should be based on your views and research. You should not rely solely upon the views and opinions offered by us.