A new environmental initiative officially got up and running last week after it was opened at a ceremony featuring councillors and conservationists at the end of September.
A sunny Friday afternoon saw the opening of Old Park Meadow Natural Burial Ground in North End, near Chelmsford.
Many of the area’s leading figures in conservation and end of life practices attended the event, which signalled the beginning of a project hoping to provide a lasting environmental legacy and last Thursday, October 5 saw the first service being held.
Old Park Meadow Natural Burial Ground manager, Delyse Jackaman, said: “It went very well considering the circumstances – we hope it was a comfort to the deceased’s family.”
Sat atop a grassy hillside, the ground’s newly built lodge looks over 34 acres of former farmland now reserved for burials and ash interments.
The building itself is a clad in golden larch wood, with large glass folding doors that were left open for the day’s proceedings. Delyse said it has been designed to hold funerals and wakes for people of any faith, or none.
On the day, the Leader of Chelmsford City Council, Cllr Roy Whitehead opened proceedings by talking about the special relationship the Council has with the project, a co-operative venture with Strutt & Parker Farms.
Charlie Fillingham, Managing Director of Strutt & Parker, said: “The burial ground’s aim is to provide a long-lasting and sustainable contribution to the area, emphasising the billions of tons of concrete, steel and embalming fluid deposited underground every year.
“Old Park Meadow is part of the movement to put an end to such waste.
Delyse added: “The opening feels like the end of a huge amount of work and preparation, having created something we are truly proud of, but really we have only just begun.
“I couldn’t be happier with how the day went, everyone was so positive, now it’s time to move forward and provide what we have promised; sustainable burials, ash interments, flexible funerals, wakes and a beautiful place to do it all in.”