New crematorium to hold open day on 15th June

29th May

Excitement is building among local businesses and residents about the state-of-the-art crematorium in Horam, developed and run by Wealden District Crematorium, which will welcome the public to an open day on 15th June from 11am to 3pm.

The ceremony hall

Shorter journey times for families and mourners is just one of the many benefits the new facility offers which include: ceremonies at one hour intervals; ample parking; disabled access and parking; baby changing facilities, a ceremony hall that can accommodate 300 people and beautiful surroundings incorporating wildflower meadows, woodland and grazing sheep. There are no steps which means the entire site is accessible and a bus stop at the entrance means public transport can be used by mourners and visitors.

The architect and planners were keen to keep the spirit of a rural amenity and there is even a layby specifically for horse-drawn hearses.

Peter Griggs from Wealden said: “Before the Wealden Crematorium opened crematoriums could only take place outside of Wealden which for many bereaved families meant a long journey to Eastbourne, Tunbridge Wells or Brighton. It could also be difficult to find a suitable time and date for a funeral at these busy crematoriums due to high demand.”

Local funeral directors and other stakeholders have been involved in the design of the crematorium and some businesses have been given a sneak preview. There will be an official opening in late summer with a multi-faith dedication ceremony.

“We are so pleased that the people of Heathfield and surrounding areas at last have a more local, peaceful place to say goodbye to their loved ones on their final journeys.  With the population on the rise there was a greater strain being placed on the traditional locations of Eastbourne and Tunbridge Wells.  After privately viewing the new Crematorium we have been very impressed with the facilities that are offered there and will certainly be suggesting to families that it becomes their number one choice,” Andy Kirk, Director, Axell-Eames Funeral Services.

The beautiful pale stonework is made from a material called Forticrete and a large amount of glass has been incorporated into the design to give a light and airy feeling. The site can be accessed 24 hours a day by mourners and CCTV has been incorporated. Most cremations will take place on the same day as the ceremony.

Asher Burnham of The May Garland Pub in Horam, the closest establishment to the crematorium, visited recently for a tour and was very impressed: “It’s a fantastic amenity for us and something to be proud of. We’re looking forward to offering a service to crematorium users as we have a function room as well as a large bar which means we can cater for two wakes at time.”

Janette Goss, who runs Horam Home Kitchen, was also pleased with what she saw. She said: “I was surprised at how nice it is. Other crematoria I have visited have been ghastly but a lot of thought has been put into the Horam one and it has been very well planned with lots of seating areas. The staff seemed very welcoming and caring too. There is even a covered area at the entrance so people won’t get wet waiting to enter.”

Chris Phipps of Hidden Spring Vineyard added: “It was fascinating to visit the crematorium which is clean and modern. I think it’s great to see new infrastructure going in and investment in the area. It will make people more aware of Horam and definitely bring more business to the area particularly for businesses like the Cuckoo Flower Company and anything that means people don’t have to travel as far is good. For us personally, we’re looking forward to offering people the use of our function room for wakes.”

Design features include a reflection pool and a memorial tree. Relatives of the deceased can purchase special leaves with a memorial message. There are also special vaults for ashes that can be purchased for 20 years at a cost of £950. The design incorporates a flower court for floral tributes and a separate Book of Remembrance room.

There is cutting-edge audio visual equipment allowing photographic tributes and music to be played and services to be broadcast around the world and saved on DVD. If there is a particularly large gathering, a service can be shown on screens just outside the hall.

All faiths are catered for at the facility. Some religions encourage mourners to touch the coffin and press the button and this is possible at the Horam crematorium.

The staff believe flexibility for families is important and there are low-cost as well as more expensive options. There will soon be an on-line diary showing availability and an on-line booking facility for funeral directors. Ceremonies can be arranged direct without having to go through a funeral director and Wealden residents are even able to scattered the ashes of their relatives free of charge whether they have been cremated there or not.

The memorial tree

The facility’s green credentials are one of the things that sets it apart from other crematoria. Around 8,000 trees are being planted that are mixed UK species. There are also woodland walks, bat boxes and bird boxes on the site and the use of pesticides is strictly limited.

The Council’s Corporate Plan includes a commitment to ‘generate sustainable sources of income to reinvest in local priorities’. The development of this new crematorium forms part of that commitment.

The Heathfield News team was given a behind the scenes tour and learned some interesting facts:

  •  Bodies and the coffins are cremated together
  •  The deceased are cremated one at a time so there is no danger of ashes getting mixed up
  • The majority of a body disintegrates in the incineration process. The larger bones are left and these are crushed and placed in a special box for the bereaved family to take away
  • The heat generated from the incineration process is used to heat the premises
  • Any metal from orthopaedic implants, for instance, can be recovered and sold. The money will go to local bereavement charities.

If you do not feel a crematorium is right for you or your loved one, there are other options including nearby Theobalds Green which is run by Heathfield and Waldron Parish Council. Woodland burials are on offer as well as the internment of ashes or the option to scatter ashes. The facility is open to parishoners and non parishoners. You can also opt for a traditional burial. For more information go to the parish council website.