Independent Funerals

The notes within this page are designed to assist you with arranging a funeral without the services of a funeral director should you choose to do so. However, we must point out that when arranging a funeral independently, there are certain aspects that you may find distressing, so any decision must be carefully considered.

We do not wish to promote any particular type of arrangement or choice and it is hoped that these notes do not imply this. In addition, we do not provide a funeral directing service.

The First Step

It may be beneficial to visit us to discuss your requirements with a member of staff, and to view the facilities available. If you have already decided, a provisional funeral booking can be made. For our contact details, refer to the top right hand corner of any page on the site. For details of our location and opening hours, please visit our How to find us & when we are open page.

The provisional booking ensures that a day and time is reserved for the funeral so that all other aspects can be organised. You can arrange services Monday to Friday during our opening hours in either of our two chapels. Saturday and Sunday cremation services are also available by special arrangement.

A total of 40 minutes is reserved for each service. If you require more time a double booking can he booked at extra cost.

Your booking notice should allow sufficient lime to obtain medical forms, etc. prior to the service - a period of four working days is usually sufficient. More time may he required if the death is reported to the Coroner or it occurs on a public holiday.

We need the following information:

  • Date and time of proposed cremation service
  • Name of deceased
  • Your name and contact telephone number

The above is the minimum required at this stage. A visit to the crematorium office will be necessary within 24 hours of making the provisional booking to collect and complete the following documents.

Notice of Cremation

This form gives us all the information we require to confirm your arrangements.

Form "A" Application For Cremation*

This form must be completed by the nearest surviving relative or executor. If not, a reason why some other person has applied must be given. A householder known to the applicant must countersign the form.

*Please note - Form "A" will be known as Form "1" from January 1st 2009

Forms B & C Medical Forms**

You must notify the deceased's doctor, who attended their last illness and tell them you are arranging a cremation. Whether a GP or hospital doctor, they will obtain these forms and complete them for you. The completed forms B & C will cost £85.00 (as at year 2000). On some occasions, the doctor will only need to complete form B if he/she knows the results of a post-mortem. These doctors' forms are printed by us, as a double page spread, with form F on the back page. We will complete form F after you have returned the completed forms B & C to us.

If any of the doctors report the death to the Coroner he or she may issue a certificate for cremation which overrules the need for forms B & C. This usually necessitates a post­mortem being organised and/or an inquest. Reporting the death in this way is quite usual and you should not be alarmed, If such a certificate is issued (free of charge) you will not need to pay for the doctors forms B & C as previously outlined. The Coroners Officer (often a police officer) or other staff will keep you informed of progress by the Coroner.

** Please note - Form "B" will be known as Form "4" from January 1st 2009, - Form "C" will be known as Form "5" from January 1st 2009

Registrars Certificate

This will be required when a coroner's certificate is not issued You will need to visit the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages in the district where the deceased died: an appointment may be necessary. If the death occurred in Scotland or elsewhere, we will be pleased to provide information on obtaining the necessary certificates.

The Registrar will issue a Certificate for Cremation (coloured green), which should be passed to us as soon as possible. This will complete the legal requirements, and you must now consider organising the funeral.

The Coffin

A coffin with a hard smooth base is essential to allow us to place the body in the cremator. The options are as follows:

  • You can purchase a standard coffin from a funeral director. All standard coffins are made of chipboard with veneers and fittings approved for cremation purposes.
  • You can construct your own coffin, using chipboard as the preferred material. Steel screws are acceptable in small numbers, and wood braces to give strength must not be placed on the underside. No PVC, sealants, plastics or heavy metals such as lead should be used. Handles are useful but not strictly necessary.
  • You can obtain an 'environmentally friendly' coffin made of cardboard. These generally preclude plastics and thereby reduce emissions from the process. If you decide to use a cardboard coffin we can nominate sources.
  • Coffins may be decorated, but the coatings must be compatible with cremation. Gloss or extensive paint finishes are not acceptable. The coffin should have the full name of the deceased displayed, either as a plate, a card, or painted or written on the lid or sides. As fluid can leak from the body, absorbent cloth or cotton wadding is essential. The maximum permitted size of coffins is 7'3" long, 40" wide and 31" high.

Transporting The Body

You will need to make arrangements to transport the body, sometimes from the hospital/mortuary to a place of rest, and always to the crematorium. The transport of a coffin, with or without the body, normally requires an estate car. You may wish to consider hiring a hearse and driver from a local funeral director to perform both tasks.

You need to transport the empty coffin to the mortuary if the body is retained there. You have a common law right, as executor or next of kin, to be given the body without the assistance of a funeral director. You will need to liaise with the hospital/mortuary whose staff will normally assist you.

The body can be retained at home up to the time of the funeral, but you must have a cool room. You will need to consider the feelings of your neighbours and only move the body when children or adults are not in or asleep.

Facilities

There are two chapels at West Herts. For details, please visit the Chapels page. The South chapel seats 50 people and the North chapel has seating for 100. Both chapels have an organ, and an organist is available to accompany hymns and operate a tape/CD machine. The chapel facilities are booked for a 40 minute period. This allows 5 minutes access time, 25 minutes for the service, and 5 minutes to leave the chapel. The remaining 5 minutes is to prepare the chapel for the next service. You can book additional time. The use of the chapel is included in the cremation fee. The chapel is dedicated and not consecrated, allowing use for both religious or non religious services. You can play music, read poetry, use musicians provided it is orderly and does not intrude on any concurrent service. We need to be notified of how you propose to organise your service.

The Funeral

When you arrive at the crematorium a member of staff will receive and help you. You are not required to hold a service or any formality prior to the cremation if that is your wish. If no service is requested, we still book a 'service' time, but the coffin is taken directly through the chapel and onto the catafalque (coffin resting place). it is then taken for cremation. Coffins must always follow crematorium procedures and no other protocol is permitted.

You can arrange for any minister to take the service for you, and alternatively a non-religious officiant may be made available. A fee is normally payable in both cases.

The service, which includes prayers and a reading will usually take about 25 minutes, with no more than two hymns. You will need to provide bearers to carry the coffin into the chapel and place it on the catafalque. The minister leads the coffin into the chapel, with the mourners following. The bearers, if family, can then sit with the mourners.

If you have a service in a church or chapel (fee payable) before you reach the crematorium, then the service held at the crematorium is called a 'committal'. The minister then leaves only 5 minutes for this service.

The Committal

The coffin rests on the catafalque during the service. At the moment during the service when the committal takes place, the coffin will be obscured from view by curtains, and the coffin is lowered into a committal room below. Our organist is available to do the committal for you.

The mourners proceed to the terrace to view the floral tributes before leaving the Crematorium. There is an option of leaving the coffin on view until all the mourners have left the Chapel and this should be agreed with the minister or officiant.

Music

If a particular piece of music is required it should be arranged with the minister/officiant in advance of the service. If tapes and CD's are desired the resident organist will be pleased to operate the tape/CD facilities during the service: however, these must be delivered to the crematorium office the day before the cremation service. To preserve the dignity of the service, it is important that each taped track is provided on separate cassettes.

A list of available hymns and music can be obtained from our offices.

Cremation Procedure

We operate the crematorium in accordance with the Code of Practice defined by the Federation of British Cremation Authorities.
A copy of the Code of Practice is available for viewing at our office. Useful information is also provided on our Questions People Ask About Cremation page, which is also available as a booklet, available from our offices.

Miscellaneous

Flowers

You can provide your own funeral flowers. including dried or garden flowers, without using a commercial florist.

Obituaries

If you require these in local newspapers you can do this yourself. Due to hoax calls, they may not accept your order by telephone. If you call at their offices, you should take some evidence of the death to prove you are genuine.

Location

We have photocopied plans showing our location, available upon request.

Fees

A table of fees is available upon request. Fees are reviewed each year and implemented on the 1st of April. The Tables may also be viewed directly below.

Fees - Memorials

The cremation fee covers chapel use, organist or music system, cremation and placing of cremated remains in the Gardens of Remembrance. All fees are due before the funeral takes place, payable to us.