Sutterton’s natural burial ground

Bob Lowrie beside one of the plots in the natural burial ground at Sutterton. Photo: SG160513-112NG
Bob Lowrie beside one of the plots in the natural burial ground at Sutterton. Photo: SG160513-112NG
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Bob and Marion Lowrie are great ones for making plans for their future.

For instance, they have their succession plans in place for the future of their business, The Thatched Cottage at Sutterton. Their daughter will take it over and she in turn has a son who could follow in her footsteps.

And, just like other people approaching their 70s, Bob and Marion have also made plans for what happens when they die.

Except in their case it is not going to be a conventional cremation or burial, but a much more natural and eco-friendly affair.

The landlords at the pub and restaurant were given planning permission earlier in the year for a natural burial site in a nature reserve to the rear of their business.

“There were some in the village who objected,” said Bob (71). “The planning officer described it as death phobia, but there was also a lot of support.”

An interest in a natural burial ground arose after Marion did some research and was shocked at the price of funerals. Their daughter suggested they get buried in a field instead.

As the couple had bought an eight-acre field behind the pub, which they had then transformed into a nature reserve by planting 2,200 English hardwood trees, they already had the perfect location. The trees are now growing up and the area is filled with wild flowers, such as ox-eye daisies and forget-me-not.

Bob said: “The trees are protected by the Forestry Commission for 25 years and now we have planning permission for the burial ground no one can ever spoil it. That’s our little mark, but I also bought the land out of respect for my father, who always wanted land and never had it, and my mother who could draw trees like I have never seen.”

Burial plots are staked out among the trees in the nature reserve. Each burial takes place close to a tree, which Bob says assists with decomposition. Bodies are buried in a biodegradable coffin, wicker or cardboard, or else in a shroud.

Staff at the site take care of digging and putting back the soil. Bob says it is completely non-denominational service, so not restricted to any particular religion or any at all.

Both Bob and Marion plan to be interned in the natural burial ground, but they’re in no hurry. Bob had a heart operation three years ago and has been told there’s another 25 years in him yet!