The Woodlands Story
The Memorial Woodlands is the unique realisation of an exceptional vision. Some ten years ago, the owner, Christopher Baker, attended a cremation. The impact upon him was profoundly disturbing. He intuitively knew that there had to be a better way of dealing with the death of a loved one; and from that point onwards set about finding that better way. Finally, after lengthy negotiations with the local Council he was granted planning permission to use his land and buildings for a woodland cemetery.
Three things were, and indeed still are, central to his vision of enabling family and friends to celebrate the life and of a loved one in the way they want; Time, Space and Privacy. To that end he established a practice of permitting no more than one funeral a day on the site to ensure that a family has all the time and privacy necessary (the whole day); whilst the early 19th century buildings converted to a chapel and reception area, provide the resources necessary to support most if not all of a family's requirements.
Since opening four years ago three other factors emerged as important to bereaved families; 'celebration', 'creativity' and 'empowerment'. In grief many families lose sight of the fact that there is often a great deal that can be celebrated about the life of the 'deceased' and the 'Woodlands' encourage families to honour their dead in the most creative manner possible, and furthermore, that many people also want to be actively involved in the organisation of the funeral; a rare possibility in traditional funerary processes. This is something that is becoming central to the 'Woodlands' way of doing things.
Since the 1st of October 2003, whether for a cremation service or a traditional burial, Memorial Woodlands has been able to provide a complete bespoke funeral that provides any level of service a family may require, including the option of a fully pre-paid funeral package.
The reaction from those who have already used the new service has been very encouraging. This comes as no surprise to Wayne Armstrong, the Business Manager of the Memorial Woodlands. We have deliberately broken away from old stereotypes and conventions and concentrate
on helping families plan the farewell that is appropriate for them. Indeed, the benefits of the on-site multi-faith chapel and reception rooms enable bereaved families to organise a funeral that focuses on what is important and removes unnecessary stress.
Everything that happens at Memorial Woodlands is set in the context of developing an indigenous mixed woodland and wildlife habitat. The first phase of the Woodlandıs strategic plan is complete. Over the past three years a lot of hard work has been put into repairing and making good the hedgerows and the ditches and the land drainage system has been greatly improved; the road laying is now finished and a network of footpaths has been developed.
The woodland is evolving nicely. Trees planted include Oak, Chestnut, Holly, Rowan, Silver Birch, Cherry, Lime, Ash, Elder and Beech, and the planting of wildflowers, including cowslips, crocuses, primroses, snowdrops, bluebells and wild daffodils continues. Buzzards have been seen frequenting the area, indeed, two pairs of Buzzards are now permanent features in the landscape and what is really exciting has been the sight of Small Owls in the woodlands; and the ever secretive Deer are regular visitors as are Partridges and Pheasants, and many more different small animals, including field mice are making their presence felt.
In phase 2, which began last winter, coppices of Willow, Oak and Hazel, were strategically placed between areas designated for the great Oaks, Limes and Chestnuts. Shrubs were also planted to support small wildlife, including ground nesting birds; the planting of wild flowers will continue.
Memorial Woodlands welcomes all visitors during our opening hours.