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Coffins, Shrouds and Memorials

You may be interested to know that there is no UK law requiring that a coffin be used. (If the person is to be cremated most crematoria expect a coffin to be used, although there are some that now allow shroud cremations.)

Contrary to popular belief, it is not a legal requirement that a coffin or casket must be used to house a dead body. The only legal stipulation is that 'It is an offence to expose a dead body near a public highway as this would outrage public decency'.

A body should therefore be covered in public, but the method of doing so is entirely up to the individual responsible for the disposal of the body.

The Respect 'Everybody' Shroud

The simple shroud shown above is produced by Respect Everybody Shrouds


Most families in Britain still choose to use a coffin rather than a shroud.

With that in mind, we list below suppliers who are willing to sell directly to the public rather than only to funeral directors.


One of our favourite coffin suppliers is Roger Fowle. formerly involved in teaching homeless people the skills of basket weaving with a local charity, Roger now creates beautiful willow coffins, and encourages families to take part in the process if they wish. He also offers three day weaving courses in which you can make a willow coffin and take it home afterwards!

For more information call Roger on 01763 208612 or visit his website www.weavermanbaskets.co.uk



Above is a bespoke coffin made by Roger and the family and friends of the departed.Made in buff and white willow, this coffin has many items woven into it by the people taking part in its construction, items with special meaning such as the two garden hoes used as locking bars and trouser braces woven into the lid. 


Another supplier who has recently come to our attention is Feet First Coffins, a small, family run business providing 100% environmentally friendly, pine wood coffins and caskets, handcrafted and finished with entirely biodegradable handles, lining and beeswax polish.


Suitable for cremation or burial, the Eco coffins from Feet First take 60% less energy to burn in a cremator than a traditional veneered chipboard coffin, and produce 90% less emissions.


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 If you are organising a funeral and would prefer to source your own coffin or shroud rather than choosing from the selection offered by a funeral director, then you are entirely within your rights to do so.


Below are a list of coffin suppliers who sell directly to the public. Please be aware that the websites for many coffin suppliers do not list prices due to the complications and differences between retail and wholesale/trade customers.


In addition to the suppliers below, some of the Funeral Directors in our Recommended list will also help families who are organising a funeral themselves and just want to buy a coffin or shroud from them (rather than all of the associated services they offer).




There are many, many ways of commemorating the life of someone, ranging from the familiar marble or granite headstone on a grave in a cemetery, to memorial benches in parks or towns.

As people have become more concerned about environmental issues, the traditional type of headstone made from imported stone that has been quarried in the Far East is becoming less appealing, and a whole host of alternative memorial choices are now available.

Across the UK, there are craftsmen who specialise in working with locally sourced wood and who will create a bespoke memorial for families who commission them. One such craftsman is Luke Chapman, who has a studio in Norfolk. His website can be seen here

Luke Chapman

It was Luke who produced and donated the beautiful walnut plaque that was carved for the overall 2013 winner of The People's Award for the Best Natural Burial Ground in the UK, which was presented to South Downs Natural Burial site by our patron, Lucy Siegle.

Another craftsman who we've been told about is Chris Nangle, whose work can be seen here. Chris creates contemporary and traditional memorial benches, made from locally sourced English Green Oak, and offers a complete design and build service from his Shropshire workshop.



Other Ideas

A new alternative to commemorate lives, both at the funeral ceremony and afterwards, has been introduced by A Giving Tribute - a way of sharing memories and photographs of the person who has died. Their 'Funeral Tribute Card Package' allows family and friends to create complimentary Funeral Tribute Cards online, which are then printed onto recycled card and mounted within a weatherproof cardboard display stand called a Tribleau.

The Tribleau can be set up at the funeral venue to greet the mourners in much the same way as funeral flowers (but without the associated costs to the environment) and can then be taken on to the reception afterwards. Once the cards have been removed, the Tribleau can be recycled, and the Tribute Cards can be kept in a special commemorative Memory Book.

With increasing numbers of families opting for donations to charity in lieu of flowers at the funeral ceremony, a special display of photographs and memories can provide a focal point for mourners on the day, as well as a treasured keepsake for the bereaved family afterwards. More information and prices are at the website www.agivingtribute.com







The New Natural Death Handbook fifth edition is out now, this book is a must read for everyone. Completely revised and expanded into a boxed set of three books... Read more

Credit to Will Whipple (photographer)



Links and Resources




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