Reprinted from Newsletter 113, dated 2004 October

Green burials at cemetery extension, and a fine view too

John Brunsdon

The Glastonbury and Sharpham Joint Burial Board consists of town councillors and a representative from Sharpham. The board was set up in the middle of the 19th century to run the new Wells Road cemetery after St John’s churchyard was closed to burials. An impressive gatehouse entrance and two chapels were built — all Grade II listed — and the grounds planted with specimen forest trees, now mature.

The land rises steeply, and there are splendid views across the levels to the Mendip hills. The builder Rowley Bisgrove did a commendable job restoring the chapels in 1992. One is still used for occasional services, and the other as a workshop for a specialist monumental mason who also does restorations.

The original cemetery land is fast filling up, so the extension land above has had to be prepared for burials. This land had to be reclaimed from Mendip council and it was consecrated by Bishop John Bickersteth some years back. Our society did a tree-planting scheme at the top — David Heathcoat-Amory MP planted a tree at the start. Now the trees are getting established and the field — with mediaeval cultivation terraces preserved — is a haven for wildlife.

It is such a beautiful area that the board has arranged for it to be used for Green burials. For these, there will be no monuments, and the sheltered natural feel of the space will be retained along with the wildlife, carefully screened from the rest of the cemetery. Do have a walk through the cemetery to the Green area — you will enjoy it.

Green burials use biodegradable urns and caskets, made from material such as cardboard or wicker. Planting of wildflowers is encouraged. Fur further information contact the town clerk (83 1769 between 10am and noon) and undertakers as usual.