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Garden burials

There is nothing in burial law to prevent the owners of private land from burying cremated or non-cremated remains on their own land (eg in gardens, fields or other appropriate spaces). However, depending upon the circumstances, planning permission may be necessary and their may be public health implications. For these reasons, the local authority planning officer and the local authority environmental health officer should be consulted beforehand.

Anyone contemplating such a burial is strongly recommended to consider the longer term implications, bearing in mind that an exhumation licence will be needed if the remains need to be removed in due course (eg if the land is sold). In any event, a record of any burial on private land should be kept, preferably with the deeds of the property. The presence of the remains should also be declared when the property is sold.

Some of the practical considerations are the size of the garden and the proximity of the grave to houses, whether the family may wish to move the body after the property is sold, the likelihood of anyone wanting to visit the grave in the future and whether purchasers would want to buy a house with a body buried in the garden etc.

This Council keeps records of garden burials that it knows about and asks landowners to provide the following documents:

  • A copy of the death certificate to confirm the identity of the deceased and that the death has been properly registered
  • A plan of the house and garden marked with the location of the grave
  • Confirmation that the Environment Agency has been consulted and has no objection re possible groundwater contamination

It is an offence to disturb human remains (human remains include cremated remains) without first obtaining the correct lawful permission, and in the case of garden burials, this is a Licence to Exhume issued by the Ministry of Justice at the following address:

Coroners and Burials Division
102 Petty France
London
SW1H 9AJ

Tel: 020 3334 6390