Glebe - The Burial Ground
Arbory Trust's woodland burial site is situated just west
of Cambridge between the villages of Barton and Comberton
on the B1046.
The site at Barton
is the first of its kind. The land currently in use at Barton
(South Glebe) totals about 19 acres, but a neighbouring piece
of land (North Glebe) was acquired in 2009 and the site is
now almost 40 acres in total. The new phase was planted in
the winter of 2009/10, and was opened to the public for access
in 2010, but it will be some years before this new area is
open for burials.
is not renowned for its hills, the newly acquired area does
slope gently upwards, and adds a new dimension to the otherwise
relatively flat landscape.
Other than the
hard-standing car park area, access to the glades is via the
grassy Main Ride and walks, and appropriate footwear should
always be worn. Visitors’ cars are not permitted beyond
the car park.
the South Glebe, the area currently in use for burial, nearly
10,000 trees have been planted since 2000, all of them of
species indigenous to the local area. A futher 10,500 trees
have now been planted in the North Glebe. They include oak,
ash, lime, wild service, wild cherry, silver birch, holly
and willow. All have been planted in a scheme designed by
our Forestry Commission advisor. For a map of the burial ground,
A further 10500 trees have now been planted in the new area,
again in a scheme designed by our Forestry Commission advisor
to match the original design of the current area, and this
new planting includes more of the original species as above,
as well as barberry, whitebeam, yew and alder trees, which
are again indigenous to the area.
does it all work?
Burials at Barton
take place in the glades surrounded by trees, the graves ultimately
becoming part of that glade or meadow in time, with the surrounding
trees creating a living memorial to those who lie there. This
means that there are no headstones or statues, and nothing
that will be left to fall into disrepair as time goes on.
Trees are not planted with each grave, but it can be important
for families to mark graves, so simple wooden markers, which
may bear a simple inscription, may therefore be placed flush
to the ground (for details of permitted size, please see FAQ’s).
Ultimately, these will biodegrade and disappear. Whilst graves
are not permanently marked, they are recorded by regular survey.
The exact position of a grave becomes less important as time
passes, and families are content simply to return to Barton
to remember loved ones in the natural surroundings.
of planting trees, people are encouraged to sponsor existing
trees. The money received is used in the maintenance of the
grounds and development of the Trust, and can include appropriate
pruning, thinning or replacing of trees as needed. For further
details see the Tree Sponsorship page.
Wild flowers may
also be planted, but must be native to the woodland. There
is a leaflet available for guidance- see Leaflets,
Newsletters and Forms.
The main ride and access tracks are
mown several times a year. The glades themselves are mown completely only once, usually done as late in September as possible borne in mind when placing markers (which must be flush to
For details on our maintenance programme,
see the Ground
Can I make a grave reservation for the future?
We are encouraged
to see people thinking ahead, actively planning and making
known their wishes for natural burial. Reservations can be
made (either by a part or full payment - see Fees page for
details) at any time, and more and more are now making reservations
for the future. A future reservation guarantees that there
will be a grave space somewhere in the woodland - it does
not guarantee an exact spot, chosen at the time the reservation
is made. The only exception to this is where an adjacent space
is reserved for a spouse or partner when a loved one is buried.
Once one family member is buried, that adjacent reserved space
is guaranteed - we do not dig double depth graves. For all
other future reservations, we encourage people to express
a preference for a particular Glade, but the choosing of the
exact spot is done just prior to the time of burial. This
is because the Glebe changes in appearance as burials occur
and the grounds develop, and people do change their minds
about location. It is also only possible to record existing
graves and adjacent reservations by family members with real
accuracy, and, on a practical level, we cannot guarantee to
keep particular plots free for what may be many years. Click
here for a Grave Reservation
All burials at
the Trust must be with biodegradable coffins, of which there
are now a considerable number available. They range from willow
and bamboo, to the more traditional-looking wooden coffins,
and even eco-pods. We do stress that coffins should be entirely
bio-degradable - without brass handles or plaques. All funeral
directors have good knowledge of the options available (many
now being commonly used), and a simple internet search will
also yield a good return of information.
Of course it is also possible to be buried in a simple shroud,
although the use of a base board of appropriate material is
encouraged for reasons of dignity.
Staff will be happy to talk through the various options with
you at any time. For other details, see FAQ’s.