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Woodland burial site opens

14 September 2012

WOODLAND burials offer the Church of England one way of addressing its "scant attention to the natural world", the Priest-in-Charge of Glynde with Firle and Beddingham, the Revd Peter Owen-Jones, has said.

Mr Owen-Jones, who initiated the first Church of England woodland burial site, Barton Glebe, near Cambridge (News, 30 September 2005), was at the opening last Friday of Britain's newest such site, the Durham City Woodland Burial Project.

Earlier in the week, he said that woodland burial was a sign that "the new environmental consciousness . . . is beginning now to come of age. I think it has been regrettable that the Christian community in this country seems to be lagging far behind what a large section of the rest of the population are beginning to understand."

The Durham project is believed to be the first in the country to be managed by a non-profit company - the Woodland Burial Trust Community Interest Company - and is run in co-operation with Durham County Council.

Its opening coincides with the launch of a new book, Natural Burial: Traditional-secular spiritualities and funeral innovation, by the director of the Centre for Death and Life Studies, at Durham University, Professor Douglas Davies, and Dr Hannah Rumble, a research associate.

Their research suggests that Britain is "leading the world globally in natural - or woodland - burials where people are typically buried in a woodland setting, field, or meadow in wicker, cardboard, or other ecologically appropriate coffins", Professor Davies said.


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