The death of a loved one is always a traumatic experience and it is closely followed by the need to make decisions about a funeral when one may not be feeling like it. A decision has to be made whether to have the deceased buried or cremated, and whether to have a service in a Church or at a Crematorium; their intentions and whether anything is specified in their Will may not be known.
The Churchyards at both Withyham and Blackham are open i.e. there is space for more burials (some churchyards are closed - i.e. full-up; in that case, burials take place in a Cemetery run by the local Council).
The law is that anyone either living in a parish or dying in a parish has the right to be buried in a churchyard; otherwise, it is up to the Vicar/Rector. Often families wish to bury the deceased near relatives in a churchyard with which the family have been associated, perhaps for many generations. Here we have space and are therefore able to adopt a generous approach to any requests.
For those wanting a burial, a service in church immediately before a burial is normal. The service could be in another church and just the burial take place here.
For those seeking cremation, the service can take place just at the crematorium; or there can be a service in church before and then just the committal taking place at the crematorium; or the cremation takes place first, often attended only by closer family members, and then a service in Church follows later in the day or on another day. The latter is technically a Service of Thanksgiving (Memorial Service) the funeral having taken place at the crematorium itself; or this may be held several weeks or months after the death.
A Thanksgiving Service can be held at Withyham even if the funeral took place elsewhere.
Diocese of Chichester's regulations cover headstones and tablets in churchyards - their design, size, type of stone and wording. The Chichester Diocese Churchyard Regulations can be downloaded from the Diocesan Website: Chichester Diocese
The erection of memorials is normally dealt with in liaison with the Funeral Directors, but have to be approved in advance by the Rector.
The Parochial Church Council maintain the Churchyards, arranging for the grass to be cut regularly. There are also regulations as to what can be placed on graves.
Burials are usually next-in-line at the east end of Withyham Churchyard and the west side of Blackham Churchyard or close to existing relatives of possible.
Ashes (cremated remains) are now interred at Withyham beside the path towards the east end of the Churchyard; at Blackham, inside the lych gate on the left.
The formal reservation of grave spaces within the churchyards is possible.
The choir are usually available to accompany the singing in Church.
It is possible to involve a member of the clergy or an organist or choir known to the bereaved family in a service.
The nearest Crematorium is the Kent & Sussex Crematorium in Tunbridge Wells: 01892 523894 / 540419.
The most frequently-used firms of local funeral directors are:
Tester & Jones Crowborough 01892 611811
Paul Bysouth Crowborough 01892 655000
R. Medhurst Hartfield 018923 770253 and East Grinstead 01342 315880
The costs relating to funerals and burials are standard fees for the whole of Church of England: organist, choir, verger and heating are in addition. This is all arranged by the funeral directors.
In Withyham, the Dorset Arms and the Kings' Hall (Village Hall) are both local venues favoured for refreshments after funerals in Church.
Dorset Arms (dorset-arms.co.uk)
Kings' Hall, Withyham Mrs M. Stafford (01892 770035)
In Blackham, the Village Hall is opposite the Church.
Village Hall, Blackham Mrs P. Hayes (01892 740574)
It is unwise to fix a date for a funeral before liaising with the other interested parties. The Rector, James Campbell, is very happy to discuss any arrangements. He is available to help families plan what they want at a service, choice of hymns and readings, who will give a tribute and whether the service is held in Church or at the crematorium.