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Arranging a burial and buying a grave

The prospect of arranging a burial and buying a grave can perhaps seem baffling and daunting, especially at what may be an exceptionally difficult time for you and your family.

If you are appointing a funeral director, they will offer support and guidance as you make the burial arrangements. We hope that you will find the following information useful for arranging a burial at either Newmarket Road Cemetery or Huntingdon Road Cemetery. Of course, if you need any further assistance, any member of our Bereavement Services Team will gladly offer their assistance.

Arranging a burial

  • When can a burial take place?

    Burials usually take place on any weekday: Monday to Friday (except bank holidays) between 9am and 2.30pm (in winter) or 3pm (in summer).

    Alternative arrangements can be made to meet individual cultural needs. Please talk to your funeral director or contact our Bereavement Services Team to discuss any specific needs. Your funeral director will contact our office to book the burial at an available date and time.

  • Can I have a chapel service before the burial?

    Some people have a funeral service elsewhere and then come to our cemetery for a direct to grave burial. We do, however, have chapels available for services on site at both Huntingdon Road and Newmarket Road. To find out more about the chapels at Huntingdon Road, please click here.

  • What paperwork do I need to complete?

    Your appointed funeral director or a member of the Bereavement Services Team can help you ensure that you have correctly completed all of the relevant paperwork ahead of the burial.

    At a minimum of  3 working days before a burial (unless for cultural purposes), we need to be in possession of a fully completed Interment Application form (see below), a green disposal certificate or a yellow coroners certificate and, if you are using one of our chapels, a Memorial Service Preliminary Form (see below).

  • How much does a burial cost?

    The cost of a burial depends very much on the type of service you require. There will also be a difference in fees depending on if the deceased lived within the boundaries of Cambridge City. For a full list of fees, please click here.

Buying a grave

  • Do I have to purchase a grave for a burial?

    No, a grave doesn’t have to be purchased for a burial to take place. An un-purchased grave is sometimes known as a public or common grave. Un-purchased graves are currently only available at Newmarket Road Cemetery.

    Cambridge City Council holds the rights to the grave and has complete control of it. The same grave may be reopened to accommodate an unrelated individual. Memorials and headstones are not permitted on un-purchased graves.

  • When should I buy a grave? & Can I reserve / pre purchase a grave?

    New graves are only available at Huntingdon Road Cemetery.

    Graves can be bought as and when they are needed. Grave spaces are allocated in each section by our Grounds Team. If you would like to view the next available grave space before a burial, please contact our office.

    Alternatively, it is now possible to reserve / pre purchase a grave for future use at Huntingdon Road Cemetery. If you would be interested in pre purchasing a grave, please read through the Application Form below and contact our office to talk through the details.

  • What types of grave are available to buy?

    New graves are only available to buy at Huntingdon Road Cemetery. We have introduced a range of graves to give people as many options as possible. Graves can be purchased in Jewish, Muslim, Roman Catholic, Infant, Traditional and Lawn sections. Please be aware that none of our grounds have been consecrated.

    Traditional grave spaces
    These allow the grave owner to arrange for a full headstone and kerb surround to be placed on the grave after burial.

    Lawn-type graves
    These graves were designed on the war grave principle and the grave is levelled and grassed over after burial. The grave owner can arrange for a headstone to placed with a matching vase plate for flowers or wreaths, if desired. They can’t be planted or have kerbing.The council maintains these areas at no expense to the grave owner.

  • What is a deed of grant?

    If you decide to purchase the Exclusive Rights of Burial, Cambridge City Council will issue you with a Deed of Grant approximately two weeks after the burial. It is an important document which proves that you are the registered grave owner. It should be kept in a safe place as you may be asked to produce it if you wish to make any alterations to the grave or memorial.

  • How long do I own a grave for?

    When you buy a grave, the law states you purchase the Exclusive Rights of Burial for a set period of time. Authorities can’t go against this law. In our cemeteries, this is for 50 years. Every 5 years, you will have the option of ‘topping up’ the Rights to reinstate the lease to 50 years. It is vitally important you inform the cemetery office if you change address. If you decide to extend your lease, this may be on the condition that any memorials receive a full inspection and stability test and any defects found are subsequently repaired.

    If at the end of the lease you choose not to extend it, or if you cannot be contacted, the Rights will revert to Cambridge City Council. We may then give you a notice asking you to organise the removal any headstone or memorial. If you choose not to remove the memorial, the cemetery staff can lawfully remove them.

  • Can you outline the council's and the grave owner's responsibilities?

    Cambridge City Council will maintain the site around the graves by cutting the grass in the cemetery. For the first 2 years after the burial takes place, the council will top up the grave as the ground settles. The council also has a responsibility for the safety of cemetery visitors and staff and we periodically perform safety checks on memorials. If a memorial is found to be unsafe, the we will inform the grave owner. The grave owner would be responsible for arranging and paying for the required repair work.

    The grave owner is responsible for the maintenance and cleaning of all memorials on and within the grave space, and for the upkeep of any plants on the grave. For an annual fee, however, our grounds staff can provide maintenance services. Please contact us for further information. If a grave is clearly unkept, at the discretion of the ground staff, it may be reinstated to a lawn section grave. Please take into consideration the type of memorials you leave on the grave. Delicate memorabilia is at risk of breaking and may cause harm to other visitors, staff or wildlife. Valuable items are at risk of being stolen, and the council are unable to accept responsibility for this.

  • Can I transfer grave ownership to someone else?

    Yes, at any time you may transfer your Exclusive Right of Burial to another person. This must be done legally by the completion of forms which can be obtained from our Bereavement Services Office. There will be a fee for this process.

    You may also bequeath your Exclusive Rights of Burial to someone in your will. After your death, the Executor of your will should contact our office to transfer the Rights to the new owner. If you do not leave a will, your next of kin may contact our office for the relevant forms to legally transfer the rights. There will be an administration fee for the process.

After the burial

  • Are graves filled in immediately after the burial?

    Graves are prepared for burial at least one full day before the funeral and are covered overnight. The ICCM Guiding Principles for Burial Services states that immediately after the mourners have departed the graveside, the grave shall be entirely backfilled and made tidy. This work is completed on the day of the burial and coffins should not be left uncovered overnight.

    Some cultures require that the grave is filled in while the family watch or they may wish to undertake the backfilling of the grave by hand themselves. When families would like to do this, it is essential that the cemetery is made aware of their requirements when the burial is first arranged. This will ensure that the family’s wishes are met and that their safety is protected during the backfilling process. Please be aware that the graves are usually backfilled using machinery and this can create an ‘industrial’ atmosphere which some families may find distressing.

  • How do I arrange for a headstone or memorial to be placed on a grave?

    The grave owner can contact a stonemason of their choice to design and produce a memorial. The stonemason will then liaise with us directly to apply for a permit to carry out the work and arrange the payment of the cemetery fees. The grave owner must sign their consent on the stonemason’s permit / application form.

    The memorial may only be placed on the grave 9 months after the burial, when the ground has settled and consolidated. The memorial should conform to the cemetery regulations with regard to size and fixings, and the memorial also needs to be checked for stability under health and safety regulations. You may ask your stonemason for a workmanship guarantee or details of insurance. They should adopt the NAMM or BRAMM codes of practice.

  • Can I leave flowers or wreaths on special occasions?

    On special occasions throughout the year, you may like to leave floral tributes or wreaths on your grave. At Christmas and Easter, our staff leave the tributes in place for a maximum of 4 weeks. For Father’s Day or Mother’s Day, they are left in place for 2 weeks. They may be removed earlier if they begin to noticeably deteriorate.