Funeral & Cremation FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions about Wicker Coffins for Cremation, Natural Burial & Traditional Funerals
Here are our answers to some of the questions that we come across about wicker coffins, funerals, natural burials and what happens to a coffin at a cremation. We hope you find this page informative and useful in answering some of your questions about natural burial and funeral planning.
If you have any questions about our coffins in particular; please do not hesitate to reach us through our contact page.
What is a natural funeral or green burial?
A natural burial differs from the traditional funeral in a cemetery or churchyard, by the use of natural materials and guidelines. Essentially natural burial sites will only accept bodies that have not been embalmed and they must be buried in biodegradable coffins; our wicker coffins are suitable.
Natural Burial Sites
These natural burial sites are cemeteries where graves are not marked by gravestones, having instead memorial planting of trees or flowers. Some sites may have buildings in which to hold a ceremony and entertain afterwards.
Most celebrants or ministers are happy to cover a ceremony in these buildings. The range of burial sites on offer is fairly broad, some with conventional lawn style cemeteries, with trees instead of gravestones, others on agricultural sites, where the land continues to be farmed. Take a look at our links page for the best resource in locating your nearest woodland burial sites and natural burial grounds.
How much is a wicker coffin?
Wicker coffin prices vary hugely depending on the type of coffin you wish to buy; where it is made and who you choose to buy it from. In comparison coffins, through suppliers that vet quality carefully; coffin prices can start at around £300 for a cardboard coffin. Whereas bespoke wooden coffins can cost in excess of £2000.
British Made Willow Coffins
Buying an English made coffin is a great marker of quality; as our standards here in the UK and particularly at Sussex Willow Coffins remain high. The bargain price cheapest wicker coffins that can be found on the internet for rock bottom price tags, are usually from the Far East and often of questionable quality.
Wicker Coffin Prices
We do not publish our prices online, as we do not wish to be compared to cheap imported woven coffins. Such a comparison does not appreciate the quality, ethics and time; that goes into weaving a funeral coffin made in the UK.
All of our customers are treated as individuals, with their own set of needs and preferences. We are happy to discuss what best suits you, including the payments. If you require the price of a wicker coffin please contact us.
Can wicker coffins be cremated?
Yes, wicker coffins can be cremated or buried. Wicker coffins are ideal for cremation; Willow is a fast growing and sustainable wood resource, which makes it particularly applicable for the short lifespan of a cremated coffin. A wicker coffin has a larger surface area due to its construction, using small willow withies.
Woven Coffins For Cremation
Willow wood itself provides a high temperature and rapid combustion during the cremation. Willow is a reputable and reliable wood, often used for kindling; and is the principle type of wood in the production of fine charcoal, for the pyrotechnics industry.
Plants of Willow can grow up to 8 feet in height and the wood can be harvested every year; from the same coppice and plant for up to 60 years. Find out more about sustainable willow for weaving, growing willow and the coppicing process.
Are wicker coffins cheaper than wood coffins?
In many cases the answer is Yes, as most wooden ones have the added costs of; complex construction, chemical finishes, expensive fitted liners and the addition of metalwork on the exterior of the coffin (hinges / handles / decoration). They can also be very expensive to ship and transport due to their excessive weight.
Our coffins are designed to be traditional and simple. With all the coffin parts made from natural timbers, wicker willow and natural sisal rope; for the handles which are built into the woven design itself.
How Much Do Wicker Coffins Cost The Environment?
If you are also considering the cost of a funeral to the environment; a wicker casket is far less damaging to the planet when buried or cremated.
Do caskets and coffins get reused or recycled?
No, coffins being reused by crematorium staff or funeral directors is entirely a myth. Because the coffin itself is an important part of the cremation or burial process. The coffin is required to carry the body into the crematorium or burial ground. During cremation the coffin is charged (placed into the cremator) from a metal table; either automatically or manually.
Reusable Coffin Covers
In some cases a reusable coffin or coffin cover may be offered; in the event that a very cheap and not so aesthetically pleasing coffin has been supplied. This is rare and would generally incur an added charge; which could in effect eliminate the savings made, when buying a cheap coffin in the first place. Eventually having the impact of driving up the total cost and expense of a funeral.
Read our blog post to find out more about how the cremation process works.
Can you get cremated without a coffin or casket?
Yes, in the UK there is no legal requirement to use a coffin or casket to cremate a body. The laws around whether you can be buried and cremated without a coffin in Britain simply state:
“It is an offence to expose a dead body near a public highway; as this would outrage public decency.”
Do you have to have a coffin for cremation?
As the law dictates, the body should be covered in public. How this is done is the choice of whoever is responsible for disposing of it.
Burial Shrouds & Wicker Carriers
For the purposes of cremation, it is possible yet uncommon, to have the body contained in a shroud; then use a “charging board” or wicker carrier to place the body on.
However, this option is often fraught with additional challenges when carrying and handling the body; which may result in unnecessary distress and embarrassment.
Cheapest Coffins For Cremation
A wicker funeral casket can be the cheapest coffin for cremation, being very suitable due to its short lifespan. With willow being a fast growing and sustainable crop.
What is the history of wicker coffins and funeral casket weaving?
Wicker coffins are not a new idea, although willow caskets in some form were likely used in ancient times, we can certainly trace them back to the late 19th century; where they were employed as a solution to the overcrowding in London’s cemeteries.
The earliest advertised Willow Coffin, advocated by the Duke of Sutherland and produced in 1875 by the Necropolis Company, was the ‘Earth to Earth’ willow coffin. With which it was suggested should have “ferns, moss and herbs placed inside the coffin and be buried slightly higher in the ground, to encourage decomposition”.
How Are Wicker Coffins Made?
The base of the coffin is made first, with the sides then being woven from bottom to top. The load bearing handles are integrated into the weave in our coffin design, making them attractive and strong.
Watch us making a willow coffin and find out more about what we do.
Personalising Your Willow Coffin
Personalised touches can also be added into the weave, including; coloured bands, ribbon, fabric or almost any other special keepsake. Just let us know what you would like to include. We can discuss what can be done for you and what is allowed by the crematorium or burial ground.
We recommend you stick to natural materials here as they are accepted in most cases.
Can I buy infant or child sized wicker coffins?
Yes, in the unfortunate event that one should be needed; we can make coffins to children and infant sizes. We have made ‘infant cocoons’ and child caskets out of green and buff willow. Time and care will be taken to discuss your needs.
Do willow coffins creak when moved or carried?
Yes, all woven willow coffins will make some noise when used; due to the nature of the materiel and woven construction. However the amount it creaks does vary hugely, depending on the tightness of the weave and the materials used.
Very often the cheaper imported woven coffins, are of loose weave; and will creak more than an our coffins. Which are much tighter woven, with consistency and quality as our highest values.
Wicker Coffins That Make Less Noise
Sussex Willow Coffins are made using lots of natural green willow, which still has the bark on. This reduces the amount of creaking considerably, due to the waxy nature of the bark.
Our “Natural Willow Coffin” makes very little noise whilst being carried.
Can I buy extra large coffins or a custom size wicker coffin?
Yes, we can weave custom coffins to any size you require and to hold as much weight as is required. We have techniques for increasing the load a coffin can take, broader shoulder widths and increased depths.
We will however need a slightly longer lead time as these custom coffins will be made to order rather than kept in stock. Make contact here to discuss your requirements.
Do I have to buy a coffin from the funeral director?
No, in the UK there is no need to buy a coffin from a funeral director. If you will be arranging your own coffin, it is good practice to let them know at an early stage.
Once your coffin is ordered, we can arrange delivery to your funeral directors, funeral home or an address of your choice.
Is a name plate required for a cremation coffin?
Yes, if the coffin is going to be cremated then it is required to have a nameplate, most cemeteries will ask for one too. A name plate needs to state the full legal name of the deceased. Often the age, birth and death dates are included.
You can include anything else you wish, as long as the above information is clearly stated. We offer a natural handmade wooden name plate made from Sussex ash timber, at a small cost.
Do wicker coffins come with a liner?
Yes, our wicker coffins have a double liner fitted. This is made up of a biodegradable plastic layer, with a calico cotton outer layer; hand sewn onto the coffin for a soft comfortable finish. We are happy to make coffins with or without a liner if needed. Read more about our coffin design and what our coffins are lined with.
How do I buy a wicker coffin?
To order a coffin please contact us on 01273 671430 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org. We are happy to discuss your needs and answer any further queries, just use the quick and easy buttons below.
Can you put things in a coffin when cremated?
In most cases you are allowed to add things inside the coffin; and even attach things to the outside of the coffin prior to cremation.
What can you put in or on cremation coffins?
- Flower or other plant material
- Items of clothing made from natural fibres
- Accessories made from natural fibres
- Jewellery, precious or non-precious stones
- Personal mementos
- Written messages
What can you not put in a coffin for cremation?
- Anything highly flammable or explosive (including alcohol)
- Items that give off undesirable gases or fumes when cremated
- Any electrical items including battery powered
- Sealed glass / plastic / metal containers which can burst
- Medical apparatus e.g. pacemakers, glasses, etc.
What alternative coffins are for sale in the UK?
Along with wicker coffins, there are several other types of woven coffin; which can be considered as alternative funeral coffins to traditional wooden ones. Although they may be biodegradable, many of these have a higher carbon footprint; due to the distance travelled and the materials used.
- Straw Coffin
- Seagrass Coffin
- Banana Leaf Coffins
- Cane Coffin
- Wool Coffins
What are the types of coffin for cremation?
Besides wicker coffins, there are several other types of coffins which are accepted for cremation. Careful thought should go into deciding which material you would like in your chosen types of coffin for cremation.
Wooden Coffins For Cremation
Traditional wood types of coffin for cremation will usually need all of the additional decoration and ironmongery attached to the outside; removed prior to going through the cremation process.
Natural Coffins For Cremation
Coffins made from materials that are not natural may give off unwanted fumes and chemicals. Our coffins are made entirely from natural materials native to the UK; other coffins made from natural materials may have a considerable carbon footprint attached.
Types of Coffin For Cremation
Here is a list of some of the choices you have in the types of coffin accepted for cremation:
- Traditional Wooden Coffins (oak, beech, birch ply or pine)
- Knitted / Woven Wool Coffins
- Woollen Burial Shrouds
- Personalised Picture Coffins (often with custom designs)
- Woven Straw Coffins
- Linen Cloth Burial Shrouds
- Wicker Willow Carriers (shallow wicker casket without lid)
- Woven Seagrass Coffins
- Cardboard Coffins (easily personalised)
- Veneered MDF (made to look like wood)
- Banana Leaf Coffins
- Woven Cane Coffins