Arranging a funeral

Arranging a funeral

Arranging a funeral without using a funeral director

A funeral can usually only take place after the death is registered.

Most people use a funeral director, but you can arrange a funeral yourself.

You should check the Will of the deceased to see what they wanted to happen to their body after their death.

Arranging a funeral yourself

You should contact one of our offices either by phone or in person to book a funeral.

You can start to arrange a funeral before the death is registered.

You’ll need to visit the cemetery or crematoria office within 24 hours of making your booking and to collect forms to fill in.

You can use our chapels to arrange religious or non-religious services.

Services take place Monday to Friday and start at 30 minute intervals between 9:00am and 4:00pm.

You should plan a service that isn’t longer than 20 minutes to allow time for people to enter and exit the chapel. Call us on 0117 903 8280 if you need to arrange a longer service.

What we need to know

If you’re booking a cremation, we need to know:

  • date and time of proposed cremation service
  • name of deceased
  • your name and contact telephone number

When booking a burial we need to know:

  • date and time of proposed burial
  • if you need to use the Chapel
  • if the burial is to take place in a new or existing grave
  • name of deceased
  • your name and contact telephone number

Provision of graves

If there is space, we can open graves for burial if the grave owner agrees.

New graves are available in these cemeteries:

  • South Bristol Cemetery
  • Canford Cemetery
  • Henbury Cemetery
  • Greenbank Cemetery
  • Avonview Cemetery

South Bristol Cemetery can have new graves for various religions and cultures:

  • Ba'hai
  • Chinese
  • Jewish
  • Polish
  • Muslim

The coffin


A coffin, with a hard smooth base is essential to allow us to put the body in the cremator. This can be:

  • A standard coffin. You can buy them from funeral directors.
  • A coffin made by yourself, using chipboard as the preferred material. Ferrous screws are acceptable in small numbers. Wood braces will give strength but can’t be on the underside. No PVC, sealant, plastic or heavy metal like lead can be used.
  • Environmentally friendly coffins, made from wicker or cardboard, need to have a solid smooth wood ply base is to make sure that they can be passed easily into the cremators.  If you want an open-type basket weave you need to wrap the body in a cotton blanket.  Coffins can be decorated, but the coatings but can’t have gloss or extensive paint finishes.

What you need to know:

  • Display the full name of the deceased on the coffin as a plate, a card, or painted or written on the lid or sides. Fluid can leak from the body so absorbent cloth or cotton wadding is essential.
  • At Canford Crematorium the biggest coffin size you can have is 82" long, 28" wide and 21" high. Casket shaped coffins can’t be bigger than 78" long.
  • At South Bristol Crematorium, the coffin can’t be bigger than 84" long, 28" wide, and 22" high.


Coffins for burial need to be made of perishable materials and you need to put the full name of the deceased on it.

Burial without a coffin is allowed but the deceased must be wrapped. The wrapped body must be secured to a solid board so it can be lowered into the grave.

Transporting the body

You need to arrange transport of the coffin to pick up the body and then to take the body to the crematorium or place of burial.

You can hire a hearse and driver from a local funeral director.

Speak to the hospital or mortuary for help with picking up the body.

Funeral directors

If you don’t want to arrange a funeral yourself, you can find local funeral directors using these services:

National Association of Funeral Directors
Telephone: 0845 230 1343

Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors
Telephone: 0845 230 677