St Albans Woodland Burial Ground
Posted by Richard Rawlinson
Back in 2001, The Telegraph ran a story about the Church of England opening its first woodland burial site, Arbory Trust, a consecrated 40-acre plot in Cambridgeshire with trees and flowers replacing gravestones.
‘Other sites cater for pagans and ‘New Age’ followers and do not offer a Christian burial,’ claimed the newspaper in its indomitable way, adding. ‘Unlike other woodland sites, the trust does not plant trees on top of coffins because of the implication, which is contrary to Christian teaching, that people are reincarnated in the tree.’
Two years later, The Telegraph revisited the subject, this time stating ‘Churches across Britain are to set up woodland burial sites because many of their existing graveyards and cemeteries are full’.
It quoted the Rt Rev Anthony Russell, then the Bishop of Ely, saying he believed that such burials would prove popular. ‘The woodland burial sites not only provide extra consecrated space, they also meet the wishes of people who want to be buried in an environmentally friendly setting which is close to nature,’ he said.
Almost a decade later, I searched the list of UK natural burial grounds on the website of the Natural Death Centre, and found just two consecrated sites: the aforementioned Arbory Trust and Bedfordshire’s St Albans Woodland Burial Ground, consecrated by the Diocese of St Albans.
Does anyone here know if there are more consecrated sites not registered with the NDC or if the CofE’s bid to unburden graveyards has not yet taken off—beyond people choosing cremation?
Meanwhile, traditional cemeteries from Clitheroe Cemetery in Lancashire to London’s New Southgate Cemetery have established wooded areas for people who wish to have more natural surroundings. Here.
The Arbory Trust