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Barton Glebe - The Burial Ground

 

The 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.

Whilst Cambridgeshire 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.

In 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, click here.
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.

So how 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.

Instead 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 Maintenance page.


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 Form.

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.


Registered Office : Bishop Woodford House, Barton Road, Ely, CB7 4DX. Telephone: 01223 303874 : Charity Number: 1079635