Arranging a burial

Southwark's Bereavement Service manages three local cemeteries and we're happy to offer help to anyone wishing to arrange a burial.

You can contact us with any questions or to better understand what happens at a funeral service.

A funeral can usually only take place after registering the death.

Funeral directors

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

Director services

Contact number

National Association of Funeral Directors

0845 230 1343

Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors

0845 230 677

Find out about call charges

Funeral directors normally include all costs in their final bill, but you should double check this at your initial consultation.

Arranging a funeral yourself

You may prefer to organise the funeral and burial yourself (referred to as an 'independent funeral'), rather than employ a funeral director. Making your own arrangements may enable you to say goodbye to your loved one in a more personal way, but will involve more organising.

You should contact us either by calling 0207 525 7651 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.

We can offer help and advice if you choose to go ahead with an independent funeral. Contact us by calling 0207 525 7651 for more information.

Municipal funerals

Occasionally someone may die with no relatives or friends to take on the responsibility of funeral arrangements. In these cases, Southwark's Social Services department will look after the arrangements and later try to recover the costs from the estate of the person who died. This is called a 'municipal funeral'. 

Southwark's Bereavement Service will select a grave for the person (sometimes known as a 'public' or 'common' grave) and are responsible for maintaining it. Unfortunately, it's not possible to place any larger memorial than a small vase on these types of grave.

Funeral expenses and related costs

Burials are generally a more expensive option than cremations as they incur charges for grave purchase, headstones or memorials etc. Funerals can be both expensive and unexpected, but help is available for those who may have difficulty paying. You can find more information on the funeral expenses and charges page. 

Cemeteries within Southwark

We have 3 cemeteries within Southwark:

Most of our cemeteries have areas that have been consecrated by the Church of England, as well as non-consecrated areas for people of other religions or beliefs. Burials can take place on any weekday except bank holidays; special arrangements can be made to have it on another day.

You're welcome to view the section of the cemetery where the burial will take place. Contact us and we'll arrange to meet you at the site. 

Purchasing a grave

When you buy a grave in one of our cemeteries, you buy the 'exclusive right of burial' for that particular grave for a period of 50 years. Both Southwark residents and people living outside the borough can buy a grave within our cemeteries, but the fee is greater for those who are not or were not residents of the borough. More information can be found on the funeral expenses and charges page. 

Arrangements for purchasing a grave are usually made by a funeral director and any costs involved may be included in their final bill. However, you may want to make the arrangements for this part of the funeral yourself, in which case we're happy to help.  

Different styles of burial

There are three different styles of burial available to cater for different people and different beliefs:

  • traditional burial - this allows you to put a full headstone and a surround at the grave
  • lawn burial - this allows you to erect a headstone but the grave is levelled, grassed over and treated as lawn, so no ornaments can be placed or plants grown on the grave
  • woodland burial - this takes place in an open leafy area at the top of Camberwell Old Cemetery and only trees and flowers can be planted as memorials

Burials in Camberwell Old Cemetery are slightly more expensive, but all styles of burial are the same price and there's no charge for maintaining these graves afterwards. 

Page last updated: 04 August 2017