An official ceremony to mark the opening of Woollensbrook Cemetery and Crematorium took place on Tuesday 31 October.
The service was led by the Right Reverend Dr Michael Beasley, Bishop of Hertford who was joined by the Leader of Broxbourne Council, the Mayor, Civic leaders, and representatives from across the spectrum of religions and beliefs who have used the new cemetery and crematorium.
The Bishop said: “It was a privilege to be part of the dedication of Woollensbrook Cemetery and Crematorium that took place last week. Woollensbrook is a place of peace and tranquillity that will enable loved ones to say goodbye well to those who have died and to commit them to God’s care."
The crematorium opened in March this year and has already held almost 400 funerals from across the region.
The crematorium is the closest facility of its kind to Hoddesdon and Cheshunt as well as Ware and Hertford.
Since opening it has also held funerals for families from Welwyn, Hatfield and many other parts of Hertfordshire.
Located just off the Hertford Road, Woollensbrook, set in a natural bowl surrounded by woodland, meets the need for a new crematorium to serve the area and relieve pressure on neighbouring crematoria at Enfield and Harlow. Vital additional burial ground will be provided too with the existing cemetery on Ware Road in Hoddesdon due to run out of space in the next two years.
Richard Evans, Managing Director of Westerleigh Group which operates the crematorium, said: “Bereaved families have certainly appreciated the extra space and time that we are able to offer. It seems a long time since we first won the tender back in 2013 and we are delighted to finally be ready for funerals. We are very proud of how the crematorium looks, finished in natural stone, in sympathy with its countryside setting, and I am sure that it will provide a more tranquil and convenient place for local families to hold a funeral.”
Broxbourne Borough Council ran a competitive tender to pick a developer for the site in 2013. Westerleigh Group, the leading developer and operator of crematoria and cemeteries in the UK, was selected and later gained planning permission from the Council for their designs and building plans. Upon practical completion of the building, the firm was granted a long-term lease for the site.
Councillor Mark Mills-Bishop, Leader of Broxbourne Council, said: “Woollensbrook crematorium provides much-needed burial ground and really makes a difference to local families. Seeing it dedicated was special and it is reassuring to know that this beautiful site is there for those in need.”
Councillor Carol Crump, Mayor of Broxbourne, said: “It was an honour to witness the Bishop of Hertford lead the dedication service so thoughtfully. I was struck by the importance for families in the Borough of having such a peaceful space to come to at such difficult times in their lives. It truly has been lovingly constructed to fit seamlessly into its natural setting.”
Unlike some other crematoria, Funerals are spaced a minimum of an hour apart to allow families privacy.
Jim Gardiner, of Jim Gardiner Funerals in Cheshunt, added: "It is a great relief that we finally have a crematorium of our own. The existing crematoria, especially Enfield, are too busy with families complaining that they feel like they’re on a conveyor belt. Woollensbrook promises to offer something much more personal and all of the facilities have been built to a very high standard.’’
The 96-seat chapel has been fitted with large bay windows overlooking a water garden and the surrounding woodland beyond. A state of the art digital music system has been fitted alongside a traditional organ. The chapel is able to cater for all religions and beliefs.
The crematorium will serve all communities across Hertfordshire and the manager of the new service, Jason King, is delighted to finally be able to open its doors.
He said: “It is a secluded, natural spot, ideally suited for holding funerals and allowing families to grieve in peaceful surroundings. We will allow an hour for every funeral, ensuring that each one can hold a unique, dignified event.”
The cemetery will also provide valuable new burial space for Hoddesdon residents as well as providing above ground Mausolea, similar to those that have been recently installed in Cheshunt.
For more information, visit http://woollensbrookcrematorium.co.uk/