New deal for crem users

Charles 4 Comments


The newly made-over chapel at Parndon Wood, Harlow by the Westerleigh Group. Report

Below, a crematorium chapel in Sweden, where numbers of people wishing to witness cremation are rising. Jan Olov Andersson, CEO of the Swedish Federation of Cemeteries and Crematoria, said “I think we haven’t been that good at informing the public. And in areas where we have informed bereaved relatives of the option we have noted a significant increase in requests.”



  1. Charles

    Nice to see the crem at Harlow done up – but sorry if this sounds negative – it’s still a conservative, hierarchical space with little sense of ritual presentation outside a traditional Christian largely verbal liturgy. It’s still a small, cramped space.

    The Swedish one brings the congregation round the room, puts the coffin close to them, has a space for ritual marked off and emphasised if if its needed, it’s flexible, it can easily be used to create involvement as well as separation, and I want to work in a place like that – need I go on? OK, I will anyway. When are we going to get crems in the UK designed by theatre designers and/or architects with some zip? Makeovers of an authoritarian model from 50 years ago don’t cut it any more. Open it out, Westerleigh, the private sector is, we are told wearingly often, the sector that features new ideas and initiative.

    Still, even Harlow is better than one of the dumps I work in.

    The Swedish one speaks loudly of several important things. Maybe I’ll emigrate. Is Swedish hard to learn? I’ve watched all the right TV….

  2. Charles

    What a beautiful, practial and useful space our Scandinavian friends have created. Talking to a British architect a few years ago about crematoria rooms for ritual, he seemed rather more preoccupied with sound reduction and ducting….

  3. Charles

    I cannot see what might have changed in this crematorium. The Westerleigh Group have performed a similar ‘makeover’ of our local crematorium chapel which involved moving the stereo out of the actual room and very little else. Oh, sorry, and enlarging the awning outside where the hearse draws up. Westerleigh are, in my opinion, in grave danger of being perceived as dinosaurs. We need much bigger change to these spaces other than a revamping of the shelves outside that the flowers are displayed on. When will these organisations realise they can make much more significant improvements to their services by employing marvellous chapel attendants, people who have the best of people skills, not simply the ability to move mourners in and out quickly. I would love to see the scale of wages for employees in crems. I have a horrible feeling that the pay for those out front doesn’t reflect their actual importance. These people are the face, heart and soul of these places, and too often they are surly, unpleasant smartly dressed bouncers. Get a grip crematoriums, or market forces and consumer power will send you to the scrapyard.

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