Friday and Saturday 21 and 22 June marked the opening of Clandon Wood natural burial ground in the Surrey Hills, south of Guildford. The moving spirit behind the venture is Simon Ferrar, a man whose meticulous research has made him really quite famous in Funeralworld. There can’t be anywhere he didn’t visit, nor any person he has not interviewed. We remember well when he rang the control tower of the GFG-Batesville Shard with the excited announcement, “I’ve found it! I’ve found a site!’ We googled it and verily, even at that stage, it looked good from the air.
It has to be said that he’s got it absolutely right. Thirty acres of English meadow already, though planted only last year, looking really verdant and supporting a rich variety of wildflowers and, of course, attendant voles, raptors, owls, field mice and the voracious food chain that supports any English idyll.
Tons of people came. We missed the ceremonial opening by sundry assorted clergyfolk and the Mayor of Guildford, Diana Lockyer-Nibbs, a splendid name. Emma Curtis, a shamanic celebrant, uttered a marvellous pagan blessing. There were some seriously brilliant speakers to follow, including Ken West, Fran Hall, Kristie West, Barbara Chalmers, Rachel Wallace, Pia Interlandi and sundry folk from local wildlife orgs.
There was even a funeral. Simon Ferrar rehearsed his own, his pallid corse drawn by horse and cart, followed by a long procession, and in the mid-afternoon he rose again from the dead and did it once more the next day. Good idea, that, to enable people to see what a natural burial looks like.
We very much like the ceremony hall. Indeed, we liked everything we saw and everything we heard. We thank Simon and Dani for their hospitality and their warm welcome.