First funeral at historic Plymouth venue

Charles 4 Comments

Posted by Wendy Coulton

This week 200 people attended the first non religious funeral at Devonport Guildhall in Plymouth — see previous blog post here. The funeral ceremony was 35 minutes duration followed by a private committal service at the crematorium.

It absolutely reaffirmed my belief that the bereaved in the city should have more choice of venue where there was no limit on time, no one standing outside in the winter weather because space was an issue and where the ambience of a majestic historic building positively added to the experience.

Independent funeral directors Walter C Parsons should be congratulated for matching the needs of their client with this beautiful venue and Devonport Guildhall for having the foresight to agree to being a venue when I asked them earlier this year. Most importantly the family couldn’t speak highly enough about it.


  1. Charles

    Fantastic news Wendy – well done you for having the courage of your convictions. Six months from dreaming the dream to realising it is great going in a world in which little has changed in 200 years.

    The best news is that 200 people now know that this is a viable option – and at least some of them will tell their friends about it. The facility will blossom and everyone will benefit.

    We have seen a boom in alternative-venue funerals in the last two months, including this one and I hope your vision of enabling these in the south-west will bring great reward to the people you help, and to you and your local independent funeral directors as well.

    1. Charles

      Thank you so much Andrew for your supportive comment.
      As a result of someone seeing Devonport Guildhall promotion as a funeral venue I now have one to arrange at the city rugby ground next week so I am hopeful as you say that it will gain momentum. Couldn’t have done it without a forward thinking funeral director and venue.

  2. Charles

    This is really heartening, Wendy, good on yer. In my area (predominantly rural or semi-rural) we are just beginning to make headway with using village/community halls. Initial responses can include “what, the coffin? In here…?” but generally, so far, the response has been closer to “why ever not?” And the shrewder amoingst them also realise it’s a way to raise some cash. Not a lot, but every little bit helps.

    At one hall, about ten minutes from a woodland burial site, we have the ceremony, then close family nip off to the burial ground whilst people get the tea and buns etc laid out, and when the family get back, it’s all ready for them. Not so good if you want a piss-up down the pub, perhaps, but it’s all steps in the right direction!

    How much better to use a community venue for a community, or part of it, to say their farewells.

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