Frequently Asked Questions

The main questions people ask about our services and cremation in general, if you have any further questions please contact us.

Questions people ask about cremation:

Q: Is cremation of a body governed by a code of ethics and working practices?
A: Members of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM) must operate strictly in accordance with the Institute’s Guiding Principles. These principles are displayed at the Nene Valley Crematorium.

Q. How many people use cremation today in Great Britain?
A. Since 1968 when the number of cremations exceeded burials for the first time, cremation has increased considerably. Current figures suggest that in excess of 70% of all funerals are cremations.

Q. Do any religious groups forbid cremation?
A. All current Christian denominations, including the Roman Catholic Church, allow cremation, as do Sikhs, Hindus, Parsees and Buddhists. It is however forbidden by Orthodox Jews and Muslims.

Q. Is cremation more expensive than burial?
A. No. Generally the cost of a grave is much higher than the fee charged for cremation (but much of this cost relates to grave lease options), although the funeral charges are similar for both services. The only additional charge for cremation arises when the death has not been referred to a coroner and two doctors need to be paid for the necessary certificates. This does not apply to burial.

Q. How is a cremation arranged?
A. The Cremation Regulations are complex and many people approach a funeral director immediately death occurs, and advise the funeral director that they wish to arrange a cremation. The funeral director will ensure that all the necessary statutory forms for cremation are obtained and presented to the Crematorium.

Q. Can a cremation be arranged without the services of a funeral director?
A. Yes. The Executor or nearest surviving relative (nominated person – known as ‘The Applicant for Cremation’) may arrange the cremation service themselves. Nene Valley Crematorium are members of the ICCM Charter for the Bereaved will provide advice to persons arranging a cremation without the use of a funeral director.

Q. What religious ceremony can I have with cremation?
A. The service may take place at your own place of worship with a short committal service in the ceremony hall/chapel at the crematorium, or you may have the whole service there. Alternatively, you may prefer a civil ceremony be conducted, or even no service at all.

The deceased’s family can make any service arrangements that they consider appropriate, such as a memorial service, which can be held separately from the funeral at the crematorium or another place of their choosing.

Q. How soon after the service will the cremation take place?
A. The Guiding Principles state that the container and the body shall be placed in a cremator and cremation commenced no later than 72 hours after the service of committal. Where cremation may not be carried out on the same day, the ‘Applicant for Cremation’ shall be notified. This means that under normal circumstances the cremation is usually carried out shortly after the service and certainly on the same day. However, when a service takes place late in the day or a limited number of services are booked, the cremations may take place within the 72 hour period. Retention of coffins should only be carried out where a secure and hygienic storage facility is available, which is available at Nene Valley. The benefits to the community from this include a reduced impact on the environment as less fossil fuel will be consumed and the efficient use of machinery and equipment will be achieved.

Q. What happens to the coffin after the committal?
A. After the coffin is taken to the committal room, the nameplate is carefully checked. An identity card accompanies the coffin and the cremated remains (ashes) from then on until their final disposal. The coffin as received at the crematorium is cremated and staff are not allowed to interfere with the coffin.
The coffin is then taken from the committal room to the crematory for placing into the cremator, after the nameplate is cross referenced against the identity card.

Q. Can relatives witness the placing (charging) of the coffin into the cremator?
A. Yes. Some crematoria have a viewing area that overlooks the crematory, where you may witness this taking place. Others may have a room equipped with CCTV enabling all of those in the room to clearly see the charging whilst other crematoria may allow a supervised small group into the crematory. At Nene Valley there is a Viewing Room for small groups to witness ~ for a larger congregation there is a facility via a camera to witness from the ceremony hall/chapel at the end of the service. The crematorium manager must be informed that you wish to witness when the cremation is booked, so that staff can be informed who will then make the necessary preparations on the day.

Q. Should precious metals like jewellery be left on the body for cremation?
A. Usually, all items of jewellery are removed before the coffin is taken to the crematorium. Let the funeral director know your wishes in this respect when the funeral arrangements are being discussed. The crematorium does not open the coffin, nor remove any jewellery before cremation. Once in the cremator, these items cannot be retrieved.

Q. Is the coffin cremated with the body?
A. Yes. The ICCM Guiding Principles state that the container and the body shall be placed in a cremator and cremation commenced. The coffin or container with the body inside shall not be opened or otherwise disturbed, other than in exceptional circumstances, and then only in the presence of and with the permission of ‘The Applicant for Cremation, or for a lawful purpose as directed by a higher authority.

The coffin is placed in the cremator as it arrived at the crematorium. Regulations require that the coffin and all its fittings must be suitable for cremation and the Environmental Protection Act 1990 states that the process must be carried out under controlled conditions so that the impact on the environment is minimised. Any items included in the coffin for viewing before the funeral(s) are removed by the funeral director before the coffin is taken to the crematorium.

Flowers can be included with the coffin for cremation; however any plastics and oasis will be removed prior to the coffin being placed into the cremator.

Q. Can more than one body be cremated at a time?
A. No, each cremation is carried out separately. The aperture through which the coffin passes in the cremator and the cremation chamber are of dimensions that will only safely accept one coffin. However, exceptions can be made in the case of a mother and baby or small multiple births, so long as the ‘Applicant for Cremation’ has made this specific request, as this is not something that the crematorium company would contemplate without written consent.

Most crematoria will allow public inspection of their ‘behind the scenes’ procedures in an attempt to enlighten the public on all aspects of the cremation process.

Q. Can I visit a crematorium and see what happens behind the scenes?
A. Yes. All crematoria will arrange for such a visit if given prior notice. The visit may take place whilst cremations are taking place or when not; the choice is yours. This open door policy helps to dispel the myths that have been explained above and below. On seeing the cremation process the viewer can be reassured that all cremations take place individually, coffins are cremated with the deceased and that identity is maintained throughout the process so that people can be sure that they receive the correct ashes.

Q. Are coffins sold back to funeral directors for re-use?
A. No. The coffin and the body inside are cremated together. There are occasions where the deceased or the family of the deceased have opted for using a cardboard coffin in which their loved one will be cremated. When this happens families sometimes want to have a more aesthetically pleasing coffin or container on the catafalque during the service. Families therefore will opt for either a pall (a cloth covering the cardboard coffin), or a ‘cocoon coffin’ (an outer shell that covers the cardboard coffin) or will decorate a cardboard coffin themselves. Neither the pall nor the cocoon is cremated. It is important to understand that the pall and cocoon do NOT contain the body of the deceased; they are simply superficial coverings for a cardboard coffin.

Q. How are cremated remains (ashes) treated at the crematorium?
A. The ashes are taken from the cremator, cooled and put into a purpose-made unit after any ferrous metals are removed, which reduces the residue to a fine consistency suitable for disposal, known as ashes. Finally the ashes are put into a carefully identified receptacle for collection. Metals following cremation are currently recycled and disposed of, for which permission of ‘The Applicant for Cremation’ has been obtained – due to the heat temperature precious metals (like jewellery) are not recovered.

In accordance with the ICCM Principles: “There will be no commercial gain for participating crematoria with the primary advantages relating to the environment and the saving of space” ~ The products or residues of a cremation shall not be used for any commercial purpose.

Q. How ashes are kept separate?
A. A cremator can only accept one coffin at a time and all the ashes are removed from the cremator before the next cremation. An identity card accompanies the coffin and ashes at every stage of the process until the final placing of the ashes into the receptacle, thereby ensuring correct identification.

Q. What happens to the ashes after cremation?
A. The law relating to cremation requires that cremated remains are disposed of in accordance with the written instructions of the applicant. Most crematoria have a range of options which might include scattering or burying in the garden of remembrance, placing in a columbarium, interring in a small family vault or niche. To commemorate loved ones, memorial options may be available for lease, which may include nameplates beneath rose bushes, trees or shrubs, and memorial benches/seats with plaques. The simplest form and permanent memorial is an entry inscribed in a book of remembrance. Staff at Nene Valley Crematorium will provide details of their facilities, and guide you through available options.

Ashes may also be buried in family graves that are full for coffined body burials, but there will be no burial ground at Nene Valley Crematorium. Alternatively you may be able to lease a family/friends plot dedicated to the interring of ashes.

Q. What are the usual options for the disposal of ashes?
A. The ashes may be scattered at the crematorium by crematorium staff or collected for scattering or safe keeping somewhere else. If the ashes are to be buried, scattered at another crematorium or laid to rest privately, permission from us should be obtained first.

Unless instructed otherwise, we will scatter ashes in the grounds fourteen days after the cremation. Ashes are scattered in the woodland, around named/numbered trees or interred into family and friends individual gardens. The ashes are normally distributed over a wide area of ground or around a specific named/numbered tree where they quickly break down so that within a few days little trace of them can be seen.

Families and/or friends may wish to be present to witness the scattering, and may also like to hold a small ceremony. There is a small charge for this service. Payment can be made to the funeral director, who will pass the money onto us, or payment can be made to Nene Valley Crematorium on the day of the scattering. Please request to arrange a mutually convenient date and time if you wish for this to occur.

Q. When do I need to reach a decision about what to do with the ashes?
A. There is no need to make a hurried decision with regard to a final resting place of the ashes as most crematoria have a facility to hold the remains until a decision is made. If we have not been contacted with a decision after a period of one month you may receive a letter asking if you are ready to reach a choice available to you. If you are not, simply tell the crematorium that you need more time. Should we receive no reply to this letter and a follow up letter a month later, we may legally scatter or bury the ashes within the garden of remembrance after giving 2 weeks written notice.

Q. What should you do if you want to choose to be cremated?
A. Leave clear instructions in writing for the person who will be responsible for arranging your funeral. Because instructions are not binding in law, make sure that he or she is likely to carry out your wishes. The final decision will rest with the ‘Applicant for Cremation’. You can discuss any of the above with staff at the crematorium who will be pleased to arrange for you to visit the crematorium.

Q. Where can I find out more information about cremation?
A. The ICCM Charter for the bereaved gives detailed information about all aspects of the cremation process and encompasses environmental and social aspects.
Cremation authorities and companies that have adopted the Charter for the Bereaved will provide information and guidance and you can obtain a full reference copy of the Charter document from the ICCM website at