A return to nature

Natural burial is for people looking for a more environmentally-friendly method of burial, rather than a grave with a traditional headstone.

It provides an alternative form of burial in which the accumulating graves will remain forever. The areas have been planned to recreate an eco-friendly environment and provide important environmental benefits for the encouragement and protection of wildlife.

Natural burial is available to everyone, irrespective of faith or religion. There is no need to follow traditional funeral patterns or religious ceremonies.

Grave spaces are recorded on maps, so they can be found in the woodland. Following an interment, sufficient time must be permitted to allow for the settlement of the ground. At the appropriate time of year the grave will be grassed over.

Woodland Valley Naturial Burial Ground

Set on the edge of the city overlooking the sea and the South Downs in Woodingdean, Woodland Valley offers a peaceful environment to lay your loved ones to rest. Situated within the Lawn Memorial Cemetery and planted with a range of suitable trees and features, Woodland Valley has been designed to create a meadow and woodland burial ground for interment and cremated remains.

The cemetery is divided into sections with all of the grave spaces accurately recorded on maps. Burial plots and cremated remains plots are both available. Up to two sets of remains can be buried in a cremated remains plot. Alternatively you can choose to scatter cremated remains in either our Sea View or Woodland Glade scattering areas.

We have been working with plant and wildlife experts such as the Sussex Wildlife Trust to ensure the cemetery is managed for the benefit of the flora and fauna of the site.  This includes details such as a mowing regime and so many areas will be cut less frequently than in a traditional cemetery.

Coffins

To keep the burial ground as natural as possible, only biodegradable coffins, caskets or shrouds are permitted. Wooden coffins are accepted without metal or plastic fittings, and must be manufactured from timber felled in managed forests. Shrouds must be made from natural materials and fixed to wooden boards. A homemade coffin can be accepted if it meets the required standard and is approved at least three days prior to the burial. As with our existing woodland burial grounds, Woodland Valley is available to everyone, irrespective of faith or religion.

The Greenfield biodegradable coffin

The Greenfield is a strong, sturdy and lightweight coffin that has been developed for those who require an ecologically friendly and biodegradable coffin for burial or cremation.  It is available to funeral directors and those wanting to undertake an independent burial or cremation.

The coffin is designed for use at the woodland burial ground and is also accepted at the Woodvale crematorium.

It is suitable for cremation as it complies with the low emission levels set by the Government's Environmental Protection Act, and has been tested by the Federation of British Cremation Authorities, of which Brighton & Hove City Council is a member.

Specification

  • three-part coffin: outer shell, inner compartment and lid.  All made from recycled cardboard.  A biodegradable liner is also provided.
  • unique securing system when all parts are locked together (making the coffin very strong).
  • holds up to 17 stone (107.9 kg) and will accommodate up to 6'1" (185.4cm), with a shoulder width of 23" (58.4cm).
  • available in woodgrain effect.
  • it can be decorated using water-based paint to personalise the coffin.
  • the cost is £226.00 (including VAT).  Cheques should be payable to Brighton & Hove City Council.

Payment and collection

Payment should be made first, by contacting Bereavement Services because payment cannot be made at the Mortuary itself.

  • phone 01273 604020
  • email woodvale@brighton-hove.gov.uk

The coffin can then be collected from the City Mortuary

Personal collections can be made by appointment between 10am to 3pm Monday to Thursday and 10am to midday on Friday. Unfortunately, the council is not able to offer delivery of the coffin.

Purchasing a plot

Purchasing a plot

Plots can be pre-purchased or purchased at the time of burial. If you would like to pre-purchase a grave you can

If you are purchasing at the time of burial your Funeral Director can assist you with the required paperwork.

grave allocation

Graves are allocated by the cemeteries staff along whatever row is currently being used, with the next available space assigned whether it is to be used immediately or in the future. The main reason for this is to allow the flora and fauna of the site to develop rather than disturbing everywhere all the time. 

Multiple burials

It is possible to have two burials in a grave. This needs to be decided at the time of the first burial. You are then able to have further burials of cremated remains in the same grave if you should wish. If you only wish to bury cremated remains you will need to purchase a cremated remains plot rather than a grave.

You can purchase more than one grave if you would like burials to be side by side.

If you wish to purchase an adjoining grave we strongly advise you do this at the same time as the original purchase to ensure the grave is still available. It is unlikely if you request the grave next door at a later date that it will still be available for purchase since our policy is to allocate the next grave in line.

Cremated remains 

You can have up to two sets of cremated remains buried in a cremated remains plot. Cremated remains may be buried with or without a container. If you do choose a receptacle it must be biodegradable. A number of suitable containers are available from the Woodvale Lodge.

Scattering ashes

There are specifically designated areas of Woodland Valley where cremated remains can be scattered by appointment. The two areas are the Sea View area and Woodland Glade, which are both at the northern end of the grounds and signposted. We keep accurate records of where a scattering takes place should you wish further scatterings to occur in the same place.

Oak plaque memorials

We encourage the owner of the grave to plant native wild flowers on the gravespace, to be in keeping with the chalkland meadow setting.  Other plants are not permitted and will be removed without prior notice. Individual trees are not available for purchase on graves in Woodland Valley.

  • A wooden memorial plaque with a choice of engraving is available to place on the grave. These will biodegrade naturally over time but can be replaced if required.
  • Commemorative bench plaques are also available to purchase. Situated in the scattering area of the cemetery, each bench can accommodate up to five plaques. 

Apply for oak plaque memorials

Loose cut flowers can be left on a grave however they must be removed from any packaging. Vases, pots, artificial flowers and other ornaments should not be left.

Stone memorials and ornaments of any kind are not permitted and will be removed.

Fees for Woodland Valley memorials

  • Solid English oak memorial plaque inclusive of up to three lines of engraved text - £417

  • Additional line of text - £25

  • Engraved image of existing offered templates - contact us for prices

  • Bespoke engraved images - contact is for a quote

  • Plaque on shared memorial seat (for a 10 year period) - £488

Completed application forms, payments and enquiries should be directed toward the Cemeteries Officer:

Woodvale Lodge, Lewes Road, Brighton, BN2 3QB.cemeteries@brighton-hove.gov.uk
01273 292318

Services

Funeral services can be held at the graveside prior to a burial. There is no chapel in the grounds but services can be held at either the Extra-Mural Cemetery Chapel, for no extra cost, or the North and South Chapels at Woodvale Crematorium for a use of chapel fee.
 

Address and opening hours

The full address for Woodland Valley is Warren Road, Woodingdean, BN2 6DX. There is no office at the site.

Opening hours

Our cemeteries and cremation grounds are open to the public every day of the year:

Winter months, October to March

  • Monday to Saturday, 9am to 4pm

  • Sunday and public holidays, 11am to 4pm

Summer months, April to September

  • Monday to Saturday, 9am to 5.30pm

  • Sunday and public holidays, 11am to 5.30pm

You can download or request a print copy of the Woodland Valley leaflet and see our current prices on our publications page.

Conservation at Woodland Valley

The whole of Woodland Valley is managed for the benefit of the flora and fauna. The mowing regime has been designed by experts to encourage wild flower growth and therefore wildlife, so at some times of the year the grass will be longer than at others. We will keep the scattering areas cut fairly short all year round and will also create a path to graveside for a burial to take place if necessary.

Bee and butterfly bank

This is one of fifteen new flower areas created in the city, made from pure chalk and planted with native flowers to showcase our wildlife-rich chalk grassland habitats.

This bank is a miniature model of the South Downs, from Eastbourne to Winchester. It is 17 metres long and is made of 60 tonnes of chalk.Bees and butterflies bank

Seed was collected from our local nature reserves such as nearby Bevendean Down, Sheepcote Valley and Ladies Mile, with the plants then grown-on at Stanmer Nursery. A volunteer planting day was held on the 1 October 2015 where youth ranger volunteers from the Sussex Wildlife Trust, along with staff and local volunteers all joined together to plant over 2,000 wild flower plugs. Plants from around 20 wild flower species have been planted into the bank, including ox-eye daisy, harebell, wild marjoram, wild basil, common toadflax, small scabious, lesser knapweed, bird’s foot trefoil, dropwort, chamomile, betony, wild carrot, and kidney vetch.

Although the structure looks fairly bare at the moment, in time the plants will grow, spread and cover the chalk to create a flower-rich area, which will look great and attract pollinating insects such as bees, butterflies, hoverflies and beetles.

 

The great British Elm Experiment

We are supporting the Conservation Foundation at Woodland Valley in their attempt to unlock the mystery of why some trees survived Dutch elm disease which wiped out over 25 million elms in the UK.

The special trees being distributed have been skillfully micro-propagated from cuttings taken from parents trees which appear to have resisted Dutch elm disease for over 60 years.

On 23 September 2015 the first of our trees involved in the project was planted in the Woodland Glade scattering area by the Mayor of Brighton & Hove, Cllr Lynda Hyde and Andy Holter, President of the Sussex County Association of Funeral Directors.