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Parish of the Woodford Valley with Archers Gate and Kings Gate

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Funerals

We prioritize our care of those who are dying in our parish and hope you will tell us if you are in distressed or concerned about a loved one. The vicar will always come if he knows there is a need.

In these cases he or one of the team will be walking with you through this process. Inevitably however it sometimes happens that these things are unexpected or were not known about and what follows is merely about funerals.

There are several different kinds of Christian funerals:

Some people prefer a funeral at the crematorium. When you have a first discussion with your undertaker he will talk times with you and negotiate between the crematorium and the person you wish to take your funeral.

The service consists of prayers, a reading, a short address and probably two hymns. You will discuss the detail with whoever is going to take the service. The time is limited to 20 minutes.

You can leave the ashes to be interred in the garden of remembrance at the crematorium or you can arrange to have the ashes interred in one of our churchyards. (This can be the next day if you wish or if your funeral is early it can sometimes be the same day.) Often it is only the nearest family who attend the short act of burial of ashes when a few prayers are said and your loved one laid to rest. It can be a week or so later if that is more convenient for you.

Another way is to have your funeral in church. This allows for a longer service, with more personal content as part of it. This can be followed either by cremation or burial in the churchyard. If you opt for a church service followed by cremation we can judge the timing of the church service so that it can be rather longer if you wish. The service at the crematorium is only the committal in this case and lasts about five minutes. If you want burial after your church service timings will be up to you and the vicar.

All sorts of variants are possible. We want to make the experience both supportive and meaningful for you. You may find your loved one has left a request about their funeral... they may have chosen hymns for example. That is fine. Their wishes can be incorporated. Remember that funerals should celebrate a life but also support those who are bereaved. There is no real difference in a funeral and a thanksgiving service. The tone is set by your readings and hymns rather than by any difference in form.

Who can be buried in the parish churchyards?

  • Anyone who lives in the parish
  • Anyone who worships with us.
  • Those who have moved away for care in their later years who wish to come home.

Can we have a burial in a cemetery rather than a churchyard?

Yes, there are cemeteries around. Some are full so it's not quite a free choice. There is going to be a cemetery at Archers Gate in due course so we will have one in the parish. Cemetery space needs to be discussed with your undertaker.

Do I have to be a churchgoer in order to have a church funeral?

No, it is our privilege and honour to offer a service in church to all the community.

Can I have a relative or friend take part in some way?

Yes, you can discuss that when you discuss the order of service with the person taking your service.

What about the order of service?

First of all you do not have to have a printed order of service. There are hymn books and prayer books at the crematorium and in our churches. In a way an order of service is a luxury although many people have them.

Your undertaker will offer to print you an order of service after you have discussed it with the vicar and she has seen the rough outline. This is fine and they do a good job. You may prefer to do one on a computer yourself. That is perfectly good also.

Planning the order of service.

When the day and time of the funeral is settled you will discuss this with the person taking your service who will visit you anyway. Any further questions can be answered then. There is a structural order laid down but you can determine all the details together.

Monuments or gravestones.

There are regulations about these specified by Salisbury Diocese - at this link. These are aimed at ensuring that country churchyards remain beautiful places of mellow colours and with an established feel. All local stonemasons should be aware of the regulations. We would particularly recommend you consider working through Memorials by Artists - at this link.

Once you have decided on a memorial your stonemason will send an application form with details of it to the vicar who will ensure it abides by the regulations.

The regulations note that unless there are exceptional circumstances nothing should be fixed over a grave or ashes for the first six months after the burial. This is to allow ideas to crystallise and the ground to settle.

Depth of grave

Graves are normally six feet below the surface. Most people nowadays choose to have a grave dug to double depth so another family member can be placed in the same space.

I am a Roman Catholic or member of a free church. Can I have a funeral in my own church and be buried in one of the parish churchyards?

If you live in the parish you can. Discuss details with the vicar.

What about fees?

There is a proportion of your bill which constitutes church fees. See church porches for details. You do not pay the church directly. The undertaker handles it all and passes on that proportion of the fees which goes to the church.

Is there a collection and can I donate to a charity of my own choosing?

The usual practice is to have a retiring collection. You can nominate where the money goes. We are always grateful if at least a proportion of that goes to help our valley churches but the decision is yours.

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