Coffins and Shrouds

The Pentiddy Shroud

One of the principles of Permaculture on which Pentiddy Natural Burials is built, is ‘closing cycles’ to ensure everything is used to its full potential and anything seen as ‘waste’ is fed back into the loop. The fleeces from the sheep that graze the burial site are used for small craft projects at home such as spinning for yarn and felting but there is more than we need. Then came our interest in providing natural coffins and shrouds from the locality and the idea of the Pentiddy Shroud was born.

Pentiddy Natural Burials- ‘Ultimate green’ burial shroud

Pentiddy Wool Shroud
Pentiddy Wool Shroud

Ele weaves a  shroud (basically a thick woollen blanket) from the raw fleeces using a simple peg loom. This is then washed by hand and dried in the fresh air. The base of the shroud is a Hazel hurdle made from coppice poles grown on site.  Coppicing is a way of managing trees for pole wood by regularly cutting them to the ground after which they re-shoot with multiples stems. This prolongs the life of the tree, provides a bounty of natural materials for many years and provides valuable wildlife habitat. On top of the base there is then a choice of materials the body can lie on. Some families have opted to use a favourite blanket or sheet which works well. Alternatively for an additional cost, Ele can weave an under-blanket for this purpose. The woollen shroud is then secured onto the base using hand made wooden toggles.

Family and friends are invited to come out to the roundhouse in the week leading up to the burial for a chance to include other natural materials; leaves, flowers, shells and even letters that they would like to add into the fabric of the weave. Ele believes passionately that being a part of the process in preparing for a burial is something that has great benefit to those saying goodbye.

The result is a beautifully soft and cosy shroud made entirely from fully sustainable products grown and processed on site, supporting cottage industries, involving family and friends and keeping traditional skills alive. It really is the ‘ultimate green’ choice for burial.

The hope originally was that this would be a cheaper option for families, but with over 25 hours of work in just the weaving on the loom,  the cost of the Pentiddy Shroud for the average adult has worked out at £460.
(The cost will vary depending on the size.)

Cornish Willow Coffins

Jessie began making coffins fairly recently through us here at Pentiddy Natural Burials when we were looking for a local maker of sustainable environmentally friendly coffins. She attended a coffin weaving course and made her first one for a family earlier this year.

“I found the process of making a coffin honourable and it made me realise how important the role is.”

Her wish is to provide families with a personal service to create unique coffins. Working in a peaceful wooded valley in South East Cornwall she welcomes families and loved ones to visit her workshop with the opportunity to get involved in the weaving process.

Cornish Willow Coffin by Jessie Carr
Jessie Carr Coffin

Pentiddy Woods provides Jessie with many of the colourful willows she uses alongside some which she grows herself.

“My work reflects the seasons by incorporating a variety of natural fresh materials which are available throughout the year.”

Jessie’s Coffins start from £650 – please see her website cornishwillowcoffins.co.uk