Burials on private land

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Typically, burials have been performed within specified cemeteries or churchyards. Historically, however, wealthy families have been afforded the opportunity to lay their family members to rest in crypts, tombs or other burial chambers situated on their private land.

This right to a private resting place persists today and is not limited to land within large estates, it may include farmland or even domestic gardens. Although there may be some significant difficulties and procedural issues (varying on location), there is nothing in public law that prevents the deceased from being buried on private land provided there is no risk to public health. 

Considerations

It is not permitted to bury the whole family together at a single private site. The Home Office issue licences and conditions to burial grounds and cemeteries, which are defined as being a place where two or more people are laid to rest. Therefore, for multiple burials a registered burial ground or cemetery must be used.

If the intention is to erect a memorial structure at the burial site the land owner must check with their solicitor and local planning department as local bye laws, deeds and planning restrictions may prevent the applicant from doing so.

Consideration should be given to the property value post burial. The property will lose value and potential buyers may be dissuaded from purchasing the property once it has been disclosed that a burial site is located on the grounds.

In the instance that a sale was approved the Home Office may not give permission to exhume (move) and re-bury the body in the new property. This would also mean that access would not be allowed to the burial place, which may cause emotional distress.

Traditional coffins are not ordinarily sold directly to the public. Therefore, alternative options such as cardboard or wicker coffins may have to be sourced.

The private burial may cause family conflict if not all members are in favour. However, if all family members are agreed it will dramatically reduce costs along with allowing the family to organise a very personal funeral under their total control.

Requirements

The proposed site should be situated enough distance from watercourses and should be on land with a deep, water table to avoid contamination.

The intention to perform a private burial must be stated to the Department of the Environment who usually approve unless any of the following conditions are contravened:

  • No burial permitted within;
    • 100 metres of borehole or well spring,
    • 10 metres of drain, ditch or watercourse, or
    • Waterlogged or ground with poor drainage
  • Use of electrics should be avoided and plans requested from the gas and electricity board to ensure safe burial
  • A minimum of 1 metre (3 feet) of soil must remain to cover the coffin following the burial
  • In accordance with the Registration of Burials Act 1864, the burial must be recorded on the deeds of the property
  • The name of deceased, age, date and place of death should be recorded to reduce potential legal complications if a body is discovered by law enforcement or general maintenance.
  • The location of the grave must be confirmed on the deed via a location map
  • A certificate for burial issued by the coroner or registrar of birth and deaths (called the green disposal) must be obtained and any other procedural matters of the Registrar satisfied. The detachable section of this certificate must be completed and returned to the Registrar by the person who is arranging the burial, as the Registrar does not record the place/location of the burial
  • The local Environmental Health department must be informed if there are any concerns with regards to the deceased person and infectious disease

Useful Information

The Natural Death Centre
In the Hill House
Watley Lane
Twyford
Winchester
SO21 1QX 

 

Institute of Cemetery and Crematoria Management (ICCM)

City of London Cemetery
Aldersbrook Road
Manor Park
London
E12 5DQ

Telephone: 02089 894661  

 

Environmental Health Department

Ipswich Borough Council

Grafton House

15-17 Russell Road

Ipswich

IP1 2DE

Telephone: 01473 432 000          

 

Planning and Development

Ipswich Borough Council

Grafton House

15-17 Russell Road

Ipswich

IP1 2DE

Telephone: 01473 432 000  

 

Ipswich Cemeteries and Crematorium

Parks & Cemeteries,
Cemetery Office,
10 Cemetery Lane,
Ipswich,
IP4 2TQ

Telephone: 01473 433580           

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Contact Details

Parks & Cemeteries,
Cemetery Office,
10 Cemetery Lane,
Ipswich,
IP4 2TQ

Telephone icon

01473 433580