Recommended Funeral Directors
Nigel Chamberlain & Partners
Address: The Gate House, Victoria Road, Bishops Waltham SO32 1DJ
Bob Metcalf MBE and Lucy Guilder, ably assisted by Teresa Curran. Nigel Chamberlain and Partners has been looking after families in Bishops Waltham, the Meon Valley, Wickham, Botley and many villages in the area since 1892. The business is owned by Richard Steel and Partners, a family firm who have been serving bereaved families in Winchester and the surrounding areas since 1860.
Bob Metcalf joined the Steel family business more than 14 years ago, following a distinguished career in the Royal Marines. His experience in the world of funerals has included spending some years as a Quality Assurance Inspector, visiting funeral businesses up and down the country, and he has brought his acquired knowledge of best practice to his role managing Nigel Chamberlain and Partners.
Iain Steel, his father Richard and co-director Mark Allery are the three directors of the parent company, and Steels have been involved with Nigel Chamberlain & Partners since 1990. Their strong values and high level of customer service are extended to the branch in Bishops Waltham, although it is run by Bob and Lucy with complete autonomy.
The Steel family are well known in Winchester – they have been carrying out funerals for the people of the town since 1860, and Iain’s grandfather, Stanley was twice elected Mayor of Winchester, serving on the City Council for 25 years. It was Stanley who steered the former builders and undertakers of his uncle’s day in the direction of specialising in funeral directing.
Personable and friendly with an instantly reassuring manner, Iain’s love for his role is apparent. He is at his happiest working with families, helping them achieve exactly the funeral that they want. His years of experience enable him to make suggestions and offer advice so that every funeral carried out is bespoke, shaped exactly as the family want. Whether you want the simplest or most elaborate ceremony and whatever budget you are working to, Iain will make sure you receive the same personal quality service, whether from him or from one of his colleagues. Bob and Lucy bring this same ethos to their work with families in Bishops Waltham.
The premises at The Gate House are relatively new for the company that began in Garfield Road as Thomas Pink and Son back in the 19th century. For many years the funeral firm operated from Bank Street, from where Godfrey Pink and Derek Chamberlain served their community until their retirement in 1990. Nigel Chamberlain and his wife Jani managed the business under the Steel family for the next 24 years until Nigel’s retirement. In 2005, the decision was taken to relocate to larger premises, and after a substantial refurbishment the business was moved to The Gate House.
The premises are ideal for a funeral director. Entering through the main door, there is a bright attractive arranging room on the right, with comfortable sofas and a low coffee table. Opposite is Bob and Lucy’s office, and along the corridor is the chapel of rest. A small kitchen area and a fully accessible loo complete the main public area. Behind the scenes there is a large chilled mortuary area, and access through to the garage where the vehicles are kept in pristine condition by Mark, the other full time staff member based here.
Upstairs there is spacious room that is used for making funeral arrangements if larger families want to be involved. There is also a rest room for the funeral staff and a stationery room where orders of service are produced in house.
Exceptional quality of personal service. Both Steels and Chamberlains have high reputations locally and this is clearly well deserved. Their standards are impeccable. Their focus is on delivering the very best, every time, for every family, and the imbued values inherited from the past have been married with a keen eye for any adjustments that can be made to improve their service to you.
One would expect this level of quality to come at a price, but the costs here are fair and reasonable.
Your experience. Little details make all the difference. When the staff come to collect someone who has died, they are dressed in smart blue lounge suits rather than undertaker garb of black jacket and striped trousers. They look like human beings rather than strange visitors in unnatural garb. And they use a smart silver estate car, not a van to take the person back to their premises.
Every coffin is lined in such a way that the edges are covered with padded fabric – when visiting a relative in the chapel of rest, you instinctively approach the coffin and put your hand on it – here you will feel soft, comfy material rather than a wooden coffin edge.
They produce their own in house orders of service for you, designed and laid out individually.
And they don’t ask you to pay money in advance. As Iain says, “We’ve been in business for over 150 years and we work on trust. People understand that and respect it.”
The combination of tradition and modernity. The values that have served families of Bishops Waltham and the surrounding areas for generations are still upheld, the notion of service and unobtrusive support underpin this business, but are combined with a determination to stay abreast of changes in the way we want our funerals to be.
If you want a direct cremation that’s fine, Chamberlains will do that for you and you can be sure they will do it perfectly. Behind the scenes, they are as professional as when all eyes are on them at a funeral ceremony. There are no corners cut here, ever.
- Your first call will be answered Bob, Lucy or Teresa during the day. After hours one of the qualified funeral directors between Chamberlains Steels will be on call (Iain, Mark, Bob, John, David, Chelsea or Russ). All the information will be passed to Chamberlains first thing.
- Home visits – yes if that’s what you want.
- Same sex person to wash and dress? Yes, just ask.
- Embalming? Both Chamberlains and Steels are advocates of embalming, they believe it is beneficial to viewing the person who has died. However, a family can decline this option.
- Ethnic specialism? Bishop Waltham is not known for its ethnic diversity but Chamberlains will always help any family that comes to them - they may ask for guidance to ensure that a family receives the help that they need that is culturally appropriate.
- Home arranged funerals – of course. You can have as much advice or assistance as you need.
- Local celebrants – A few hand-picked excellent local celebrants who they trust completely, otherwise Chamberlains have a very good relationship with local clergy. They will suggest the person they think is right for you.
- Website – Good, comprehensive website with details of upcoming funerals, useful links and online memorials. Awaiting prices to be put online.
- Client support – Very important. You can be signposted to bereavement support if you need it.
- Money matters – Good value for money. If you have a tight budget, tell them. They will tailor the funeral to suit you.
- Parking – Plenty of client parking to the rear of the building.
This small but perfectly formed business has a lovely feel to it. The underpinning ethos and support from their larger sister business in Winchester doesn't intrude on the sense that this is a local service dedicated to local people.
The premises are bright, well laid out and welcoming, and the staff here are as nice as anyone you’ll find. The recurring description of them in the thank you cards received is ‘lovely’, and it’s clear that they will do whatever they can to make your experience as good as it can possibly be.