Choosing where to bury a loved one or where you’d like to be buried is a personal decision. The right choice for you could depend on things like where your close family members are buried, your religious beliefs, and traditions that run in your family. But before you decide, it’s worth looking at all your options. It might help you finalise your decision or give you new ideas about where you’d like to be buried. Here, we’ll go through different types of cemeteries and burial grounds, how to buy a burial plot, and what you need to think about when choosing the right place.
Different types of cemetery or burial grounds
There are several different types of burial ground available in the UK. Here are the main types you’ll come across when arranging a funeral.
Council-owned cemeteries or burial grounds
There are cemeteries and burial grounds owned by local councils across the UK. They’re usually managed and maintained by the local authority. They can be religious or non-religious. Some might have areas dedicated to Jewish burials or Muslim burials. Some will have more burial plots available than others. And some may have strict guidelines about what type of memorial is allowed on the site. Because they vary so much from area to area, it’s important to check what your local authority offers before deciding to use a council-owned cemetery or burial ground. You can usually find more info about council cemetery fees and the headstones and memorials they offer on their websites.
This type of cemetery is run by a Parish council. This is the local authority at the lowest tier of local government and is closest to its community. It can also be associated with a Church, but the council will often be responsible for taking care of both civil and religious matters in the local area. Parish-owned cemeteries can sometimes be in churchyards, but not always. And the Parish council will be responsible for managing and maintaining the cemeteries that they own. For burials in a parish-owned cemetery, you’ll need to get in touch with the Parish council directly.
Private burial grounds
There are also cemeteries and burial grounds in the UK that are privately owned. The owner of the site can choose to run it as they wish – so it could be a traditional cemetery, a non-religious burial ground or a natural burial ground.
Natural burial grounds
If you haven’t heard of natural burial grounds before, they’re eco-friendly burial grounds. This means that biodegradable coffins are used and often no headstones are used. This is so that the soil and surrounding wildlife isn’t disturbed or polluted. There are lots of private natural burial grounds across the UK, but lots of local councils are now dedicating space to this type of burial ground too. It’s a good way for local councils to make more burial plots available while also being more conscious about the environment. Learn more about this type of burial ground with our article: What is a natural burial?
Burial grounds for specific religious requirements
If you need a burial to follow specific religious requirements, then there are a few options. Lots of local council cemeteries have areas dedicated to people from different religious communities. For example, some councils will provide areas for the Muslim community. This means they’ll make sure that the graves are positioned correctly, so that the person who’s buried is facing Mecca. For more info on cemeteries or burial grounds that cater to religious requirements, get in touch with your local council. Or you could speak to your local religious leader. They’ll be familiar with which cemeteries are best for you.
Do you have to be buried in a cemetery? Not necessarily. Home burial is an option – they’re legal in the UK. But there are some rules you need to follow. You’ll need to:
- Be the owner of the land where the burial takes place or get written permission from the owner.
- Check the property deeds for anything that could stop the burial happening.
- Record the details of the burial on the deeds and in a burial register.
- Check the rules laid out by the environment agency on where the burial should take place.
Following the necessary rules for home burial can be complicated. But if it’s important to you or to the person whose funeral you’re planning, it can be done. Just make sure you get the help you need from your local council and the environment agency.
Different types of burial plot
It may also help you to know that there are different types of burial plots available in the UK. These include:
- A single burial plot – this is a standard burial plot for one person.
- Double burial plots – also known as companion plots, these are for 2 people. Some people might choose to buy these in advance so that they can be buried with a partner or loved one.
- Family burial plots – this type of burial plot might also be bought in advance. It’s usually a small section of a cemetery that’s reserved for immediate family members.
- Burial plots for cremated remains – this is a small plot used to bury urns with ashes inside.
Can you be buried in any cemetery in the UK?
It depends on the cemetery or burial ground you choose. Some local councils or parishes will only allow people from the community and surrounding areas to be buried in their cemeteries. Or they might allow it but charge people from outside the area higher fees than those who live in the area. But this isn’t always the case. If, for example, your loved one has a connection with a specific place – perhaps they were born there – then it’s always worth getting in touch with local councils and burial grounds to see if they can be buried there. Keep in mind that it’s also more likely that a private burial ground will allow anyone to be buried there, no matter where they live.
How to buy a burial plot in the UK
Generally, you can’t buy a burial plot in the UK. You can only lease one for a set period of time. This could be 50 years or 100 years, or more, depending on the cemetery. The lease is known as the exclusive right of burial. For the duration of the lease no other person will be buried in the plot. And a grave marker such as a headstone can be added. Once the exclusive right of burial period has ended it can be renewed at an additional cost. The cemetery owner will usually try to contact the next of kin once the lease has ended before adding another grave to the burial plot.
Who do you speak to about buying a burial plot?
If you’re organising a loved one’s funeral, your funeral director will organise the exclusive right of burial for you. Once you’ve decided on a burial ground or cemetery, your funeral director will usually get in touch with the owner for you. Any third-party costs for the burial plot will be covered by the funeral director’s fees. So, you won’t have to pay for this separately. If you’re not using a funeral director to organise a funeral, then you’ll need to contact the cemetery or burial ground for more details. What if you’re looking into buying a burial plot in advance for your own funeral? In this case, you’ll need to speak to the cemetery owner directly. This is because funeral plans don’t always include exclusive right of burial.
How much does a burial plot cost?
The cost of a burial plot will depend on where you live, which burial ground you choose, and what type of plot you choose. A plot for one person in a council cemetery could cost a few hundred pounds in a small town, but in London it could cost thousands. So, it’s always best to do your research before choosing a cemetery or burial ground. Read more about how much you can expect to pay with our article: How much does a burial cost?
How to choose a cemetery or burial ground
So, how do you decide where you want to be buried? Whether you’re putting your own final wishes in place or organising a loved one’s funeral, there’s a lot to consider. Here are a few final things that could help you decide which type of burial ground is the right option for you:
- Is location important?
- Are your religious beliefs a factor?
- Does your local cemetery have rules that would impact your decision? For example, do they only allow one type of grave marker?
- Is the look of the burial ground important to you?
- What about cost? Do you have a budget you need to stay within?
- Do you want to reduce the environmental impact of the burial?
Hopefully, this guide has helped you consider all your options and what’s important to you when it comes to choosing a cemetery or burial ground. For more resources that’ll help with funeral planning visit out funeral advice centre.