WATCH: New woodland burial offering at Belsay Estate

The owner of a new natural burial ground in Northumberland has said it will offer people the opportunity to find their final resting place within one of the county's most treasured and beautiful landscapes.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 03 May, 2018, 16:26

Belsay Woodland Burial Ground, which opened on Tuesday, sits in the historic Belsay Estate that has remained largely unchanged for 800 years.

Those who choose to be buried, or have their ashes interred, in one of the natural burial plots will be remembered by the planting of trees, shrubs and wildflowers.

Belsay Woodland Burial Ground owner Laura de Wesselow, left. Also included in the picture is pony Sam pulling the coffin cart. Picture by Jane Coltman.

Belsay Woodland Burials’ owner Laura de Wesselow said: “When I was young, death wasn’t talked about – funerals were very sombre occasions.

“However, that has completely changed over the past 20 years or so.

“In the same way that people are being married in different ways, people are also looking for alternatives and more choice when it comes to funerals, including a less traditional approach.

“We’re not taking the place of a funeral director, but we are here to offer guidance and help with arrangements if people would like us to do so.

“Belsay Woodland Burials will offer a peaceful resting place of enduring beauty in a totally natural environment.”

It is open to all, with any form of personal belief or culture welcome, and it can also help with choosing biodegradable coffins, caskets or shrouds, ashes interment and memorial trees.

Its first burial will take place next week.

It has been several years since Laura, who represents the current generation of Belsay’s Middleton family, began exploring the idea of Belsay Woodland Burials as part of a strategy for the sustainability of the estate and planning for its future.

She said: “I saw an article in The Sunday Times’ business section about the growth of woodland burials.

"The cultural ethos of our society has changed; the importance of environmentalism and conservation has increased hugely.

“There is now so much more personality and individuality in the way people choose to be remembered and the way their loved ones choose to mark their passing.”

A simple oak-framed on-site building is available to use for ceremonies or gatherings before or after a burial.

Burial plots can be reserved and paid for in advance or can equally be chosen at the time of need.

David Nicholson, funeral director for Go As You Please, in Consett, says he believes Belsay Woodland Burials will offer a popular choice.

He added: “I’ve been talking to Laura about this from the very early days.

"We have our own woodland burial site in Medomsley and she wanted to pick my brains a little bit about how it works and the different types of things people ask for.

“There’s definitely a growing trend towards this kind of burial. People want something a bit more natural.

"I think this new site, so close to Belsay Hall, will be of real interest.”

For more information about what it has to offer, call 01661 881206 or go to