Nature Reserve Newsletter 5 – Winter 2016/17

Now we are past the Winter Solstice it’s reassuring to remember the days will soon begin to grow perceptibly longer and here at Clandon Wood we’ve been busy making improvements for the year ahead. If you’ve visited recently you may have noticed the various fences popping up in the meadows.

We’ve been planting a few native shrubs and small trees in these to create some groves which we hope will help to enhance the landscape but also add some wildlife islands for birds and mammals looking to find shelter.

The grove nearest the West pond in particular I am hoping will attract small birds such as Dunnock and Reed Warbler which may in turn attract a Cuckoo to lay an egg in their nests. We have also erected a fence and dug a ‘ha-ha’ around the Sky Garden memorial space in the West Meadow to make it rather more sheep-proof and a place of sanctuary for families looking for somewhere safe to put their loved one’s memorial plaques when the meadow is mowed, or leave in there all year if they choose.

The sheep have been with us for a couple of months now and we’re really seeing the effects of their grazing on the meadow. Their nibbling will help to suppress the more vigorous grasses and plants which will give the small flowers a chance to grow through in the spring.

The sheep have also started to attract some birds down to forage amongst them as they lightly poach the surface. In addition to the usual squadron of Jackdaws we’ve also recently seen Pied Wagtails, Fieldfares, Starlings and the odd Black-headed Gull following the flock around. The Fieldfares have also been busy in the hedgerows along with their fellow migrant Redwings, as well as Blackbirds and Song Thrushes, hoovering up the Hawthorn berries and rosehips. Down at the pond in the West Meadow we’re still getting occasional visits from a Mute Swan plus a couple of Egyptian Geese, when the water is not frozen over of course.

Cold spells at this time of year often prompt birds to move around. On 30th November two Snipe were flying around near the west pond, clearly in search of some unfrozen ground in which to feed, while on 5th January another Snipe and two Lapwing flew over the site, again moving due to the cold weather.

We’ve been playing host to a Stonechat which has been present on and off since the middle of October. This species is a common sight on heathlands where it largely breeds but in winter birds disperse to grassland and wetland areas. It mainly favours the orchard or the area near the pond in the West Meadow so keep an eye out for it if you’re visiting.

To finish this round-up from the grounds team here are some photos I’ve taken whilst out and about on some of the beautiful sunny days we’ve been treated to in recent weeks.



                        Matt at Clandon 9th January 2017




More Swedish visitors check up on the best Natural Burial

Leif Lidholm, Manager of the Parish Cemeteries in Falkoping, a town in western Sweden about 75 miles from Gothenburg, the second city of Sweden visited Clandon Wood Burial Ground with a study group of thirty people from the Department of Cemeteries and Property Management.



The study tour took the group to a variety of cemeteries all around London. Their areas of interest were the various approaches to burials in the UK from the traditional to the natural burial. There are very few green or natural burial sites in Sweden which meant that Clandon Wood was of particular interest as an award winning burial place.




Christina Lawson, our Manager, who is Swedish, started the tour with a short presentation in the pavilion describing the concept and success of Clandon Wood as both a burial place and a nature reserve.



She was joined by our Head Groundsman, Gareth Hurd who took the group on a tour of our two meadows to view our approach to maintaining them whilst promoting wildlife.



They answered a variety of questions from how we arranged funerals, to the management and care of the site. The group had many questions and was especially interested in the traditional way the meadows were looked after, the continuing care we offer families and advice offered on end of life planning.


Hopefully Leif Lidholm and his group will be able to incorporate what they have learnt in their development plans for new natural burial sites in Sweden.

Nature Reserve Newsletter 4 – Autumn 2016

Autumn is now well and truly upon us and Clandon Wood is a sea of golden hues as the meadow edges and trees assume their seasonal attire. The main meadow has put on a good deal of lush green growth since it was cut at the end of August, much to the delight of the flock of sheep which arrived recently and will stay with us for the next few months, helping to keep the grass short until the Spring.


Gareth and I are continuing to cut the grass strips between the trees and around the margins to reduce some of the volume and prevent the meadow becoming overrun by coarse grasses, dock and thistles. We will leave around 15% of the site uncut to ensure there is still plenty of shelter for small mammals and invertebrates. As we have been cutting the grass we have found many creatures such as this Field Vole.


We’ve also been finding many caterpillars in the long grass as we’ve been cutting, such as the Knot Grass and Ruby Tiger (both pictured below) which will feed on the vegetation through the winter months before moving on to their pupal stage and then emerging as adult moths next spring.



Now the grass is shorter keep an eye out for the many fungi popping up around the meadows, including such colourful species as Yellow Fieldcap and Blue Roundhead, pictured below.



It’s fair to say it’s been a pretty mild autumn so far but nonetheless we were rather surprised to stumble across a female Brown Hairstreak butterfly in the East Meadow on 20th October.

This is one of the scarcest butterflies in the UK and we are lucky to have them here at Clandon Wood. Females patrol Blackthorn hedges in late summer and autumn looking for places to lay eggs.

Gareth found eggs here last winter but this is the first sighting of an adult butterfly here to date. It’s also unusually late for this species which generally flies from late July to late September.


As summer gives way to autumn so too the summer migrant birds have left us for warmer climes for the winter.

We had a Whinchat (pictured below) drop in in mid-September, which is a species which no longer breeds in Surrey so this individual was just passing through on migration.

Similarly a flock of Golden Plover flew south over the meadows towards the end of the month.

The last Swallows were seen in the third week of October by which time many of the winter migrant birds from the north and east had begun to appear such as Redwings, Fieldfares and Meadow Pipits.

It was also nice to see some Mute Swans visiting the west lake and meadow again recently after a few months’ absence.



Hopefully this blog post goes to show that, although the weather may be growing colder and the evenings are drawing in, there is still so much to see out and about in the natural world, especially here at Clandon Wood.

Matt at Clandon 13 November 2016

Nature Reserve Newsletter – September 2016

If you’ve visited Clandon Wood recently you will have almost certainly noticed that the main meadow has now been cut by local farmers and the bales have been taken away by Dan who provides Eddie the horse for towing the cart at funerals.

A freshly cut meadow always looks rather stark but just to prove that every habitat has its own niche species, we have had a couple of Wheatears drop in since the cut. The first one on 1st September was a very smart male (pictured below) which clearly appreciated the vantage point provided by the bales. Wheatears are barely bigger than a Robin yet are one of the furthest-travelling of all our migrant bird species. They don’t breed in Surrey anymore so it’s possible this individual could have flown to us from as far away as Iceland or even Alaska on its way to Africa – a remarkable feat for such a small bird. It’s nice to think that it liked the look of our meadow enough to drop in for a pit stop!


Another bird we saw lots of after the meadow was cut was Red Kite, sometimes up to five or six at a time circling lazily overhead searching for any spoils from the tractors. It wasn’t so very long ago that you had to go to Wales to see Red Kites so it’s great to see them doing so well now.


In August one of the team alerted me to a young bird they’d found out in the meadow. I was surprised to  see it was a very young Little Grebe! Presumably a bird of prey or other predator had plucked it off the water and dropped it as I can’t imagine such a young bird could have got so far from the pond on its own, especially one more suited to water than land. We soon returned it to to the water and watched as it swam safely back to its mum and siblings.


As many of the meadow flowers have now either faded or been cut, other plants are just beginning to flower and these become crucial for pollinating insects such as bees and butterflies. Red Admirals are one of a number of butterflies which migrate to Britain each year and some of these are now heading south again, making late-flowering plants such as Ivy and Devil’s-bit Scabious very important sources of nectar for them




It’s not just flowers that are important to wildlife though. The hedgerows at Clandon Wood are now heaving with fruit which will provide many birds and mammals with food. In the large hedge between the two meadows I have recently noted Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler, Whitethroat amongst others, gorging themselves on berries before flying south for the winter. Where the long grass remains around the edges of the meadow we will cut some areas and leave others long over the winter to provide vital shelter for a host of insects and small mammals



Matt at Clandon 14 September 2016

Nature Reserve Newsletter – August 2016

Mid-August and there’s more than a hint of autumn in the air here at Clandon Wood. The meadow is golden and ripe for harvest and the hedgerows are filling up with blackberries and elderberries, attracting lots of warblers as they fatten themselves up for their long journey south. Listen for the ‘chak’ of the Blackcap or ‘huweet’ of Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers.

Overhead, most of the Swifts have already left and are now well on their way back to Africa. Incredibly, some of the young Swifts born this summer will remain permanently airborne for two or three years until they are ready to breed. Swallows and House Martins, too, are beginning to get restless and I’ve noticed some moving south over Clandon, although many will be with us for a few weeks longer yet.

As some birds leave us other new lives are only just beginning: down on the pond last week we spotted the first tiny Little Grebe chicks of the year being fed by their parents.

The farmers have been busy harvesting the barley fields across the road from us, attracting many Red Kites, Buzzards and hundreds of Mallard ducks. We have at least three Kestrels frequenting the meadows at Clandon, attracted by the many small mammals in the long grass. In late July senior groundsman Gareth and I gave some TLC to rather tired-looking Wood Mouse we found and then later released after giving it a bit of water and flapjack.


In the meadow itself the late flowering plants such as Devil’s-bit Scabious are attracting the pollinators, while some species such as Bird’s-foot Trefoil are giving a second flush of colour




Not quite as colourful but we recently discovered Rigid Hornwort in the pond in the East Meadow, the first submergent plant to find its way into the water since the pond was created last winter, a good sign that the water is clear.


The changeable weather this summer means it hasn’t been a great season for butterflies, so with the drier, finer weather so far in August it’s been nice to see a few more out and about in the meadows at Clandon Wood. Most eye-catching of all is the male Common Blue, especially when it perches on the golden flowers of Bird’s-foot Trefoil.


Rivalling the Common Blue in brightness is the Clouded Yellow, a migrant butterfly, varying numbers of which fly to Britain each summer from southern Europe and Africa. I recently spotted one near the pond in the East Meadow.


Look out too for the day-flying Six-spot Burnet moth, which are numerous here at the moment. I found this pair mating in the East Meadow the other day.


Matt at Clandon 17 August 2016

Nature Reserve Newsletter – July 2016

High summer at Clandon Wood and while the weather has been less than favourable of late the meadow is still teeming with wildlife as I write this in mid-July.


There are many butterflies to be seen on sunny days, including Marbled Whites, Green-veined Whites, Large and Small Skippers and Common Blues, while the ever-present Meadow Browns and Ringlets don’t seem to mind if the sun shines or not – in fact I saw one out flying during a rain shower the other day.



Unfortunately rain is something we’ve seen rather a lot of this summer – well, it wouldn’t be Wimbledon season without a few showers would it? It does mean the new pond in the East Meadow is staying nicely full of water and it’s great to see this area naturalising so quickly, currently haloed in white thanks to the mass of flowering Scentless Mayweed all around it.


The meadows at Clandon Wood are a haven for all sorts of birds. It may surprise you to learn that many of our native bird species nest on or very near the ground – relatively few nest up in trees like in cartoons! Skylarks appear to have taken up residence in the East Meadow, as do a family of Red-legged Partridges. Senior groundsman Gareth and I spotted four tiny chicks following their mum around this week.



We also have young Coots on the lake in the West Meadow, and a pair of Reed Buntings seem to have moved in, often seen or heard near the West Lake but also roaming about across the whole site; the other day the male was singing in the hedgerow that splits the two fields.


As the season progresses, so the early summer wild flowers make way for the late summer species, some of them more familiar than others. Look closely among the many knapweeds, bedstraws and meadow vetchlings and you might spot the more unusual Common Cudweed or Round-leaved Fluellen.


Matt at Clandon  17 July 2016

At Half Mast

As Belgium mourns we can again do little  but show sympathy to our European neighbours and respect for those who died in the attacks in Brussels.


Maybe the other balloon released at a funeral in January reached Sweden!

As part of their study tour of English  church yards and burial sites Chief of Department Anna- Karin Helgesson accompanied by her assistant Rebecca Svensson and twenty five other people from the Parish Cemetery Management in Vasteras the sixth largest city in Sweden  (which is 60 miles west of Stockholm) visited Clandon Wood Natural Burial Ground  yesterday .


Clandon Wood Business Manager Simon Ferrar and  Senior Groundsman Gareth Hurd conducted a tour around the meadows and facilities and answered the many questions on  the visitors’ interests in finding out how an award winning  natural burial ground is operated and the practical work caring and maintaining the meadows , horticulture and wildlife as well as the important work of caring for families of the bereaved and advising of  end of life planning.


Anna- Karin Helgesson and her compatriots will be taking back  our experiences so that they can guide their discussions and decisions on how to care for burial sites and funeral planning in the future in Sweden.

Clandon Wood News from Norway

At a burial at Clandon Wood on a very windy day at the end of January, two young children each launched a tagged balloon as part of the ceremony of remembrance of their  beloved departed Grandmother .

Just the following day they received a message back from Norway to say that one of the balloons had landed there  – a distance of 1100kms . So the ceremony was broad cast far and wide in express time!

Summer fades away

We have cut our two meadows and harvested the hay which has gone away to storage for feed for the horses that usually attend at our funerals.

Following our management plan for the whole site some parts of the meadows are left uncut to allow fauna to continue to inhabit the remaining long grasses  over the winter. The perimeter banks around the meadow will slowly be cut  in an alternate fashion leaving tracks and homes for small animals.

As well as welcoming back our pair of swans on the lake we also have nine new sheep born this year, back busy trimming  the grasses and clovers around the meadows. The sheep will have plenty to eat as the weather is still allowing the grasses to grow.

75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain

Today the 15th September 2015  is the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

This afternoon forty or so Hurricane and Spitfire aircraft took off in waves from Goodwood aerodrome in Sussex to fly around South East  England in commemoration to give as many people as possible a flavour of the sight and sound.

Clandon Wood Natural Burial Ground was very lucky to have seen and heard the evocative sound of three Rolls Royce Merlin engines as the Hurricane and Spitfires of Blue Flight beat up the meadows towards the East and on to London on their way to Duxford.

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few” – Sir Winston Churchill

Total head shave

Business Development Manager for Clandon Wood Natural Burial – Simon Ferrar has committed to a TOTAL HEAD SHAVE in aid of three fabulous charities!

The reasons for having his hair removed are threefold. Firstly to highlight the trauma that can occur due to cancer treatments, secondly to raise awareness of the astounding work that hospices perform in the community and thirdly just how much money they ned to raise daily!

The two hospice charities are the Princess Alice in Esher and the Phyllis Tuckwell in Farnham which has given such amazing support to many of the families at Clandon Wood. Between them they serve most of Surrey.

We probably all know someone who has benefitted from some form of hospice care – so please, please give generously.

The third charity is little known – The Samson Centre for MS is a rehab centre in Guildford for MS sufferers and needs over £200 thousand annually which has to be raised purely through voluntary donations.

So come to an evening of MUSIC, BBQ AND DRINK – SATURDAY 22 AUGUST AT 7PM at the ANCHOR, LOWER ROAD, BOOKHAM KT23 4AH COME ONE  – COME ALL – COME HUNGRY – COME THIRSTY  as Merlin Inns are donating 20% of the bar takings.

Debbie and Sarah’s kitchen will be donating all proceeds from the BBQ Some fanatastic musicians are giving their services free of charge as are Elios the Barbers who will be carrying out the dirty deed!

If you cannot make the date please visit

The Mayor of Guildford raises our Green Flag at Clandon Wood

The Mayor of Guildford, Councillor Nikki Nelson-Smith visited Clandon Wood Natural Burial ground to officially celebrate the award of the Green Flag for this year 2015/2016 and raised the flag on our entrance flagpole.

The award handed out by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy  recognizes and rewards the best parks and green spaces across the country.

A Green Flag flying overhead is a sign to the public that the space boasts the highest possible standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent facilities.

We are also proud to have won the 2015 Bees Needs Award (supported by DEFRA and the National Pollinator Strategy) for providing food  and a home for pollinating insects.

Why not visit Clandon Wood Natural Burial and see for yourself and experience the peace, the fauna and the flora on our Surrey Hills reserve.

Music in the meadow event Guildford Fringe 2015

On Sunday 12 July 2015 Clandon Wood was fortunate to be invited as one of the ten extraordinary venues to host productions for Guildford Fringe 2015 which features diverse music, comedy and drama events throughout the month of July.

The sun was shining all week long leading up to Sunday and then we were threatened with rain for the whole event.

Although cloudy but warm, the rain fortunately gave way to sunshine just at the last minute as our first act began.

Initially deterred by the weather, only a scattering of visitors were actually in place for the 2pm start but when the sun came out more.  and more people arrived, laden with picnic baskets, chairs and rugs. Eventually over one hundred people enjoyed the rich annd mellow sounds of our guest performers.

All the musicians played on the deck of our beautiful glass pavilion to the relaxed but enthusiastic audience and everyone commented upon the calm and affable atmostphere.

Performers all gave their time freely for the benefit of the Cherry Trees Respite Care Home for children and young people who are our neighbours in East Clandon.

A huge thank you to our seven acts who were;

Guitarist and folk singer Majella Yorston-

Guitarist and singer Mike Brown –

17 year old saxaphonist Daniel Garel –

Mike Tuchy

14 year old singer-guitarist Esmee Etwell

17 year old guitarist-song writer Cara Mahon

Rosie Butler on violin

Our thanks also to for supplying the liquid refreshments – the firefly is a licensed musical venue in the heart of Guildford

Our guests were very generous in their participation and their applause. Their donations along with voluntary donations and the proceeds of the raffle raised over £380 on the day for the Cherry Trees Respite Care Home.

Showing the flag for a woodland burial

Today at Clandon Wood we had a celebration of the life of a lovely lady from London and afterwards a procession  of her friends and relatives  lead by the horse drawn cart bearing her coffin to the burial in a woodland plot in the meadow.

Since choosing a plot a  year ago where she was going to be laid to rest, she had made several visits to consult and plan all the details of her own funeral.

She made plans with the help of the staff at Clandon Wood and all her instructions were handed over to the staff on her own IPad so that they could be carried out in full.
Her instructions included the flying of the Welsh National Flag during the service on the Clandon Wood entrance flag pole to celebrate her background.

Midsummer day Sunday June 21st

On Midsummer Day – Sunday June 21st – Father’s Day we will be watching the sun rise over the East meadow with a special ceremony hosted by Emma Curtis.

You are very welcome to come and join us at the pavilion at 4.15am ready to greet the sun on the longest day of the year. Bring a flask of coffee!!

Later the same day you can come and make flower mandalas and garlands, or write messages of remembrance on paper leaves to hang on an oak bough.

Our lovely face painter Karen will also be joining us, so come along for a lovely reflective and hopefully sunny day on the anniversary of the official opening of Clandon Wood.

Salute over a woodland burial

Last week we had another unusual  first for Clandon Wood Natural Burial, after the service of remembrance of the life of the departed who was a member of the local flying club, his aviation friends  saluted him by flying over the meadows in  a  formation of flying club aircraft.

Woodland burials dedicate the Green Belt to green burials

excerpt from The Times, 22nd May 2015

“This week I went to a woodland burial ……. at Clandon Wood in Surrey, voted Cemetery of the Year at the Good Funeral awards.

For a start, traditional cemeteries are overflowing: London’s are expected to be full up in 20 years, a deadline I hope to miss. But if you ever attend a burial in a natural setting you won’t want it any other way.

We followed the wicker coffin, which swished the meadow grass as it was pulled on a cart. we scattered rosemary and flowers on the shallow grave, which will  soon be covered with plants again. The rirtual felt deeply English: a certain lack of sentiment and the comfort we took , as we cried our tears, in our native soil.

One mourner had a daughter in law my age who was buried there: her children love to come here to pond – dip and climb her tree.

Body sowing is a perfect use of the green belt. Death would protect it : a place to visit and not to destroy.”

How To Make Your Last Wishes Known

Some people are superstitious about planning their own funeral, they feel a bit like they might be tempting fate by doing so. It’s a very practical thing to do and does make things a great deal easier for the rest of your family at a time when making decisions can be extra hard.

If talking about it to your nearest and dearest is tricky, think about writing it down and of course leaving it in an easy to find place with other important documents like your Will, birth certificate, passport or insurance documents. That way you can be sure that the family will find them easily.

It’s often useful to leave bits of additional information about your life, past friends and particular photographs you might like to be remembered by. Your children for instance might only know about the years they have spent with you and have very little knowledge about what you may have achieved in the past; that hang gliding world record, flower arranging award, charity volunteer work, the hole in one you achieved on the golf course, etc.. writing these things down can be quite cathartic and provides them with some additional material for your eulogy.

Some of the aspects to consider in your last wishes are of course what sort of funeral you would like. Do you want to be cremated or buried? Who would you like to do this for you and where would you like the ceremony to take place? Do you want something traditional and religious or would you rather have a non-religious ceremony run by a funeral celebrant? You could list some poetry that you like, a few passages from a book or the bible, depending on your beliefs. You could suggest the type of music you would prefer and if you want flowers or donations to a particular charity. Do you want a willow casket or something quite different and would you like to arrive by hearse, a motorbike and sidecar, a horse and cart or something else? There are a variety of options you can consider. For full burials at Clandon Wood we recommend a hand pulled cart or a lovely horse and cart to the grave drawn by the very gentle Eddie who belongs to Daniel Brown, Surrey Hills Horseman.

At Clandon Wood you are free to choose the type of ceremony you want whatever your faith, religion or beliefs. It can include live music; a butterfly release or something else that you feel reflects your life. We have state-of-the-art audio video equipment in our beautiful glass pavilion where families can play slide shows, videos, CD’s, or anything on an a memory stick.

The other thing to consider is an advanced financial contribution towards your funeral relieving your family of that burden. There are several ways that you can do this; you could ensure you set aside some money in a separate account, take out a life insurance policy to cover the cost or simply take out a funeral plan. Unfortunately funeral costs across the UK have risen by about 87% in the last 10 years. Taking out a funeral plan and pre booking your plot is an excellent way of paying today’s prices and protecting yourself and your family against inflation.

Some people may consider it a bit morbid to pre plan your own funeral but it’s simply a fact of life and makes it so much easier for those who are left behind. Once you have done it you can forget about it and get on with living, feeling reassured in the knowledge that it’s all taken care of and your family won’t have any additional financial issues to deal with concerning your funeral costs or wishes.

If you would like any further details about pre booking a plot or holding a funeral at Clandon Wood, please give us a call on 01483 479614, we are always happy to help and willing to give free advice.


Daniel Brown and Eddie at Clandon Wood, photo by Dani Maimone

Mothering Sunday 15th March

It’s official; spring is well and truly on the way. It’s wonderful to see the snowdrops out, the crocuses appearing and that lovely yellow flower, the daffodil making an appearance, together with some slightly warmer days and a few bees gradually emerging.


Announcing the Winners of the Clandon Wood Poetry Competition 2015

We are delighted to announce the winners of our poetry competition held in January. We had several entries all of which were a true delight. It was with much deliberation that we decided on the winner Paige Sinkler with a lovely short but poignant poem called ‘Awakening.’ Second place goes to Matt Pereira with his delightful entry called ‘At Peace With Nature’ and which took him four days to write. He chose his words carefully and the result is a lovely and moving poem that feels very relevant to Clandon Wood and the wildlife that surrounds us here. Third place goes to a simple poem called ‘Remember,’ sent in to us by 12-year old Jemima Ridley-Carter. We loved its simplicity and felt it demonstrated great maturity with wise words from one so young. Remembering is something we do all this time and is particularly relevant when we have lost someone close to us.


Butterflies in January?

One does not normally associate this time of year with butterflies but if you are in need of a fix and would like to see some of the slightly more exotic variety, then look no further. No, not here at Clandon Wood at this time of year, although we are proud of the fact that in 2014 we had over 20 species on site. One of the species we had included the Small Blue butterfly, Cupido minimus, rare in this part of Surrey. We have been busy this winter preparing scrapes to support the plant it lays its eggs and feeds on, the Kidney Vetch, that looks a bit like a sort of gone wrong yellow golf ball. We hope by preparing the ground in this way and encouraging the kidney vetch to grow that we will also encourage another population of the Small Blue to thrive at Clandon Wood this year.

Enter our January Poetry Competition and Win A Meal for Two or Tickets to the Theatre.

Do you enjoy writing poetry? Would you like to see your words published online?

Clandon Wood Natural Burial Reserve is launching a poetry competition to run throughout the month of January. The competition is free to enter and the winner can choose between a meal for two at the Onslow Arms in West Clandon or a pair of theatre tickets for a show of their choice at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford. Prizes will be awarded to first and second placed entries.

As Clandon Wood is a natural burial ground that has been designed and managed as a nature reserve we would like the poetry theme to be about nature and or wildlife. Entries do not have to be written with a funeral in mind and should be no longer than 40 lines long. All budding poets who would like to take part can enter online by emailing or by  sending a typed entry to Clandon Wood Natural Burial, Epsom Road, Guildford, West Clandon, GU4 7FN. Winners will be announced in early February and published on the Clandon Wood website and Facebook page.

Further details can be seen at Guildford Dragon News online.

Where There’s a Will There’s a Way!

Do you know that at least 60% of people in the UK do not have a valid will in place?

Clearly as a nation we are not very comfortable about tackling the subject of death to such an extent that we find it hard to plan ahead for the inevitable and as a result often do not even consider the idea of writing a will. Many people in the UK die intestate, i.e. without a valid will in place, which can create all sorts of nightmares for those family members left behind.

None of us like to face our own mortality especially when we are in good health and enjoying life. It can often seem like a morbid and perhaps complicated task to put our affairs in order but for those who do, it is a way of taking control of their future.

The Winter Solstice

Today is December the 21st the shortest day and the longest night of the year, the Winter Solstice. The Winter Solstice occurs when the earth’s axial tilt is the furthest away from the sun, which means it is then at the southernmost point in the sky hence the word Solstice that comes from the Latin word, ‘the sun is standing,’ relating to the sun’s position in relation to the earth at this point.

The Winter Solstice is sometimes referred to as the first day of winter. In the Northern Hemisphere it is the shortest day of the year and in the Southern Hemisphere countries such as Australia will be celebrating their longest day and are usually by contrast basking in warm sunshine. Now there’s a thought!

Funeral Poetry and Tributes for a Loved One

Sometimes it’s hard to find the right words to say at a funeral. Do you read a poem, talk about the person that has died, play a song in their memory? Many funerals include all three and may start with a special poem. If you would like to read a poem which one should you choose and where can you find some inspiration? We hope that the links and poems here will provide you with some help.


Feed The Birds…

Winter is on the way and it can be really tough for wildlife especially birds.

The shortest day of the year, the winter solstice will soon be upon us on Sunday 21st December and with it the onset of winter. It’s during the winter months that finding food can be hard for many animals especially birds. The shorter winter days mean less time to find the food they need and in severe conditions they can really struggle. In January the UK is home to many migrating overwintering birds such as ducks, swans and geese and other smaller birds such as waxwings and fieldfares. It’s really important that we do what we can to help the birds through the winter.

So how can we help? (more…)

Catering for a Funeral

Organising a funeral is hard enough without having to take into account what sort of catering to go for; DIY, local hostelry, hotel or an experienced caterer – just one more thing to think about when you are feeling emotionally drained. There are no rules about what you provide, it all depends how you feel about it and how many people you are talking about. It’s worth considering the ages of those attending, the ease of accessing the location and proximity to where you have held the funeral. It’s a bit hard on those attending the funeral to have to travel a long way in an emotional state to the wake. It’s helpful if it’s somewhere easy to find with plenty of parking.


What is Halloween/Samhain all about?

The Pagan tradition Samhain is again upon us, more commonly known as the Christian tradition of Halloween, and once again we mark the occasion with be the annual rituals of trick or treating, vampires and ghosts lurking about the streets, and an overly excessive use of tomato ketchup.


A Little on the Wild Side

Natural burial grounds provide important habitats for wildlife.

It’s no secret that both globally and nationally we have seen a steep decline in wildlife biodiversity over the last 50 years. Last year David Attenborough, our revered wildlife expert and presenter, launched the RSPB’s State of Nature report. This was compiled with the help of 25 partner organisations from around the UK, including the Wildlife Trusts. It was a general ‘stock take,’ of all our nature and wildlife and it made sober reading. It highlighted a 60% decline in species over the last few decades. The majority of these were found to be insects such as moths, butterflies and bees. Amongst the bad news though, there were some positive outcomes such as the successful reintroduction of the red kite across the UK and Ospreys at Rutland Water.


The Sound of Music

What music would you like played at your funeral?

The dilemma of what music to chose for a funeral can often be quite a task for some families. Choosing exactly the right music that you feel is suitable for the person that has died can be tricky, especially if more that one of you is trying to make the choice. Keep it simple. You don’t need anything too complex or indeed too long. If you are choosing a hymn or song for everyone to sing to, make sure it’s something the congregation will know – or if you have the finances or appropriate friends, get a choir to join in.


Clandon Wood Receives Third Award of the Year

We have recently been voted Cemetery of the Year at the Good Funeral Awards 2014. This is the third award we have received this year and is a real endorsement that what we are doing at Clandon Wood is something quite special.


Clandon Wood Named As One of the Top Green Spaces in the Country

Green-Flag-Awards-1Keep Britain Tidy announces a record-breaking number of award-winning parks and green spaces for 2014.

In addition to recently being voted the Best Natural Burial Ground in the UK, we are proud to announce that we are among a record-breaking 1,476 parks and green spaces in the UK that have received a prestigious Green Flag Award.


Celebrate the Summer Solstice at Clandon Wood Surrey Hills Natural Burial Reserve Saturday 21st June 10:30-5:00pm

CloudsoverCWWe are celebrating our first year anniversary with a Summer Solstice Open Day this weekend, on Saturday June 21st. The 31 acre wildlife reserve, a member of the Association of Natural Burial Grounds, was recently judged the best natural burial ground in the country in The People’s Awards run by the Association. This is a tremendous achievement within our first year of business.



In the world of work and business they often say time is expensive, spend it wisely.

As we rapidly approach the Summer Solstice on June 21st and of course the day of our open day and first year anniversary, I wanted to talk about time. I am sure that many of you will agree with me about how fast time seems to go especially as you get older. In fact many people I talk to, myself included cannot believe that we are almost half way through the year already. “Where does the time go?” They ask in bewilderment. “I have no clue,” I reply it’s as if we are in some sort of weird time zone where everything is speeded up. We get crabby with young people who moan about being bored, probably because we feel they are wasting time. “If only we had more time,” we say somehow blaming everything else for our lack of time, work pressures, family, etc..


Green Flag Awards

Last week was rather exciting, not only did we have a Surrey Hills Enterprises networking event in the pavilion but we also had a visit from the Green Flag judges to assess us for their award. What is a Green Flag Award you ask? Well…in essence, it’s the benchmark national standard for parks and green spaces in the UK. It was set up in 1996 to recognise and reward green spaces in England and Walesthat met the a particular criteria of high standards. It is also seen as a way of encouraging others to achieve the same high environmental standards, creating a benchmark of excellence in recreational green areas. (Wikipedia.)


We Are Keeping Funeral Costs Down……Find Out More At Our Summer Solstice Open Day June 21st – See you there.

Simon recently attended A Natural Death Centre (NDC) day of events in London, which was organised in collaboration with Dead Social in Camden as part of Dying Matters Awareness Week. Events ranged from a tea and cake drop in café to chat about all death related matters to thinking ahead about putting your affairs in order. It’s quite shocking how few people in the UK have a valid will in place before they die which leads to all manner of issues within families with regards to inheritance. Approximately 70% of people that die in the UK each year die intestate (without a valid will.) We have a number of experts that we deal with in these matters including Helen Eynon from Wills Etc. who also deals with power of attorney. Her strap line is, “I deal with the dotty and the dead.” An amusing introduction yes, but the fall out that can result and divide entire families because a loved one has not left a Will or arranged a lasting Power of Attorney is far from funny and in some cases quite tragic. It isn’t just the absence of a Will that causes problems within families it’s also leaving instructions about what kind of funeral you would like. Sadly this can be the cause of some major arguments at what is already a very emotional time. Don’t be afraid of it. Make it clear, make it outrageous if you like but most of all write it down and keep it in a safe pace preferably with your will.


Surrey Young Super Stars Award and more….

As sponsors of the Yvonne Arnaud’s Mill Theatre Studio, Simon Ferrar our business development manager was invited to attend a lovely event there last week called the ‘Surrey Young Super Stars Award.’ This fabulous event supports and showcases young people in Surrey who have worked hard for the benefit of others. Categories include, Caring, Volunteering, Business, Sport, Fundraising and Courage. It’s supported by Surrey Life and A + magazine as well as Satro and Haslemere Travel. It also provided Haslemere Travel with the opportunity to highlight their chosen charity for the year, Guildford based Challengers who provide play and leisure facilities for young people and disabled children throughout Surrey. Simon said, “It was an amazing event and the young people were so inspiring. It’s lovely to have an opportunity like this for these young people to get some recognition for what they have achieved.”


Exciting News at Clandon Wood

March was incredibly busy with a great deal going on. We were fortunate enough to be finalists for the Toast of Surrey Business Awards 2014, which is a fantastic achievement when you consider we have not even been officially open for a year yet. We would like to say a very special thank you to Ken Smith, George Taylor and Terry Weller for allowing us to record their audio testimonials, which we used as part of our presentation for the awards. They are incredibly powerful and very moving and we will continue to use them for other presentations.



New Initiative Provides Burial Ground for Mole Valley
Clandon Wood Surrey Hills Natural Burial Reserve and Mole Valley District Council have reached an agreement to provide additional burial space for local residents. It is the first such arrangement of its kind in England.


Clandon Wood shortlisted for The Toast of Surrey Business Awards

ToastIn only our first official year of operation, Clandon Wood has been recognised as a worthy contender for The Toast of Surrey Business Awards and shortlisted in the ’Companies with a Turnover of up to £1m’ category which is sponsored by Surrey Chambers of Commerce.


Free Seminar supporting The Brigitte Trust charity- ‘emotional support at the end of life’.

You Only Die Once #YODO
End of Life Planning Seminar
Wednesday 9th April 2014
Where There’s A Will There’s a Way…
Are you one of the 70 percent of people in the UK who do not have a valid will? Does the idea of planning ahead and thinking about your future make you feel uncomfortable? Would you like to put your affairs in order but don’t know where to start?


We’ve been nominated for Cemetery of the Year


In a field of over 600 nominations across 15 categories, Clandon Wood Natural Burial Reserve has been nominated for Cemetery of the Year in the 2013 Good Funeral Awards. Pretty good considering we opened less than a year ago.


Pia Interlandi

We have had double success as Pia Interlandi, who works here at Clandon Wood and designs eco garmets for the grave, has also been nominated … in the Most Significant Contribution to the Understanding of Death category.


Our Land & Surrey Hills Enterprises come to Clandon Wood

Our-Land-logo On Tuesday 17th September, Clandon Wood Natural Burial Reserve plays host to a networking evening (5:00pm-7:30pm) organised by Our Land and Surrey Hills Enterprises.


Visit East Clandon in Bloom – 20/21 July 2013

Surrey Hills is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and you will find Clandon Wood nestled in its foothills on the northern boundary.  The area surrounding Clandon Wood is truly beautiful which complements our natural woodland and meadow burial reserve perfectly.

Although we planned Clandon Wood as a burial reserve, it has been designed as a nature reserve with fallow fields turned to wildflowers and hundreds of yards of hedgerows.  All-in-all we have 31 acres of meadow.


Natural burial at its best … Clandon Wood pavilion is formally opened

Posted on July 1, 2013

Clandon Wood is Surrey’s newest and largest natural burial reserve and is spread over 31 acres at the foot of the Surrey Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.


Come to a natural burial – Saturday 22nd June 2013

Poppy-and-cornflower8AF94DIs a natural burial a new concept for you and you would like to know more about what one entails? Perhaps you have already decided that a natural burial is for you but have never been to one.  You may have attended a natural burial before and are looking for a location for yours or for someone you know.

Whatever the reason you are thinking about natural burial, our open day on Saturday 22nd June 2013 will fill in any gaps in your knowledge about woodland burials.


Natural burial – our emotional responsibility to you

Butterfly-Cland-Wood-web-2Planning a natural burial or one of the more traditional kind or a natural burial, can be distressing and stressful.  If you are recently bereaved it can be easy to succumb to suggestions and arrangements that may not be in the best interests of you or the deceased.

At Clandon Wood Natural Burial Ground we explain, we do not exploit.  We feel strongly that we have an emotional responsibility to everyone that comes to see us needing help or advice about death and dying, planning a funeral or indeed, making their own end-of-life plans.

In our comfortable and informal reception we explain the possibilities so you and your family can fully understand and be assured that you remain in control of what is often a very emotional situation.


Wildlife arrivals on our wetland

Egyptian Geese at Clandon Wood

Clandon Wood was conceived as a burial reserve and designed as a nature reserve.  The site provides diverse environments for plants and wildlife, from 31 acres of wildflower meadows, hundreds of yard of hedgerows, native trees and plants, to the new lake and wetland.

I am thrilled that the wetland, which was only created a few months ago, is already encouraging wildlife into the area … we have a family of Egyptian Geese which has taken up residency!

It’s a shame that our new residents are a non-native species, but as alluded to in the ‘State of Nature‘ report (launched by Sir David Attenborough on 22nd May 2013), this is a sign of the times and our changing climate.  Nevertheless, it is a delight to see them each day.


Woodland burial & environmental responsibility

Grazing sheep at Clandon Wood, Surrey

A woodland burial (or natural burial)* is all about reducing the environmental impact of disposing of our dead while making it a more rewarding experience for those that are still upright.

Give something back

During our lives, we use up a large amount of natural resources.  Death is a time you can choose to give something back to nature as well as benefit future generations.  This choice is still a relatively new concept yet it is becoming more important when you take into account the dwindling amount of ‘traditional’ burial space and the environmental dangers of cremation.

As people are becoming increasingly aware of their responsibility to protect the environment, and of the wider choices available for their final resting place, a natural / woodland burial is becoming more popular.


This blog will be live very soon …

We are just putting the finishing touches to this blog and writing some content so please come back soon for updates on what is happening at Clandon Wood.

In the meantime, please click on the link in the menu bar above to go back to our website or use the icons to the right to connect with us and keep-up-to-date via social media.  If you have 4 minutes to spare to find out more about Clandon Wood then please watch this video.

Thank you.

Woodland burial – the motivation behind the choice

If you are considering a woodland burial, what is motivating you?


Research by Dr Hannah Rumble of the University of Bath in 2010 found that there are a number of motivators when it comes to choosing a natural / woodland burial.  I was interested to read that one of the most common reasons is the desire to not be a burden to their nearest and dearest when they have gone, taking away the self-instilled obligations to visit a grave and maintain a headstone.  Dr Rumble’s thesis also showed that ‘giving something back’ and a ‘return to nature’ are strong motivators.


What is a woodland burial?

“What is a woodland burial?” is, without doubt, the question that I am asked the most.  With just over 260 burial grounds in the UK, a woodland burial is still relatively unusual, but their popularity is definitely on the up.