I’m not sure the Barrow is for me, I feel claustrophobic.

It’s probably difficult for those of us who don’t experience claustrophobia to recognise and understand that some people may be put off the idea and concept of the Barrow, when they hear that it’s a relatively small space, and underground.

 

A recent professional visitor to the Barrow shared his thoughts and feelings with me, once he was inside. Entering the Barrow he was clearly calm and relaxed, and there was nothing to suggest to me he had thought a lot about whether it was really somewhere he wanted to visit. Thanks to the design of the Barrow, and the height of the ceilings, natural light is able to flood all the way into the main chamber. On top of this the peace and tranquility inside, any feelings of anxiety and claustrophobia remained undisturbed.

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 The visitor ended up being overwhelmed by the fact that he hadn’t had any issues going into the Barrow, and spending what resulted in being a considerable amount of time there. He shared his prior concerns and feelings with me afterwards saying ‘I really was very unsure about coming here today, because I’m not great with small spaces, but the Barrow doesn’t give any feelings of being enclosed, it’s just stunningly beautiful, calm and relaxing, as you say, with a feeling you just can’t explain.’

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Our visitor was happy for us to share his experience so that anyone who has any anxieties, can be reassured, by another person’s experience, that the Barrow may just be worth a visit.

 

Older Peoples Day at Banbury...

On Wednesday 9th October I was invited along to Banbury Older People’s Day, run by the Royal Voluntary Service at the Cornhill Centre. It was lovely to meet with people, and see a group involved with each other and various activities, being able to socialise and have fun, relieving social isolation and loneliness for a few hours. There was an opportunity for the delightful older people to have electric blankets checked, gather information about scams, healthy eating, and library services, whilst enjoying a healthy and hearty lunch, and listening to some entertainment. Thank you for letting me join your day!

 

Co-op Funeral directors hold their meeting here . . . . . .

Following on from one of our open days where we showed local funeral directors from Edd Frost & Daughters and the Co-op Midcounties Funeralcare around our Barrow, we had another visit on Thursday this week, where we welcomed 5 area managers from Co-op funeral services to hold a meeting in the safari tent, a lunch of homemade sandwiches and puddings, and a tour of the Barrow. 

It was the coldest day of the Autumn so far, but luckily the heaters sufficed, along with lunch. 

As with other visitors, they were unsure what to expect when they went to the Barrow, and agreed that it’s impossible to explain exactly what the Barrow is like and how overwhelming and amazing it is once inside.

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Other teams from the Co-op have already contacted us to visit, having heard their good reports. 

Our Safari tent is available for any funeral directors, celebrants and anyone else with an interest in the Barrow, to hold meetings here and to view the Barrow to see for yourselves what we have created here as an alternative resting place and funeral venue.

Rural Countryside Venue

We are very pleased that we have been informed we are able to keep the safari tent in situ. It is an integral part of the Barrow, as we can offer shelter during events.

The tent can accommodate 60+ people sitting in rows for a more formal ceremony, or 50 comfortably sitting at tables.

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The safari tent can be used for any type of event, during our opening times of 10am and 4pm, as long as the attendees visit the Barrow.

Refreshments, or homecooked meals, can be provided at competitive rates, (from £5 per head) although no charge is currently made for the hire of the tent itself.

If you are looking for a rural venue, this could just be the place. It even has a mains toilet!

Clearsky Safari Tent . . .

Clearsky Safari Tent . . .

Food Hygiene

Having undertaken, and obtained a Food Hygiene Qualification, it was time for registration with the local EHO. (Environmental Health Office) 

At the time it was my home kitchen to be registered, meaning that I was relying upon the inspector taking into consideration that whilst preparing food for functions at the Barrow, the kitchen remains in my home, and where the family spend time. 

After numerous forms were filled and paperwork completed, including the dreaded risk assessments, I had to explain procedures for preparing, storing, maintaining and serving food.

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Thankfully I was awarded with 5 stars (out of a maximum of 5!), and congratulated on my risk assessment form!! 

This was all put to the test at our first function, when I prepared a total of 8 homemade desserts, much to the satisfaction of all at the party.

What to do with Cremation Ashes.

Before the emergence of Modern-Day Round Barrows there were several choices as to what to do with cremation ashes, however, very few of these gave families the opportunity to not only visit the location of where the ashes may or may not have settled during scattering, but to actually be able to touch the urn, or even, feel as though the life lost is present at an event.

 One family I know, regularly visit ‘Granny’ who rests in one of the Barrows, and they carefully lift her urn from its niche, place it in a chosen grassy spot, and all enjoy a picnic together. 

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This may not be everyone’s choice for remembering a loved one, but it may be the solution for families who are looking for a way to enable them to feel closer to the person they have lost. 

A recent visitor to the Barrow said he didn’t particularly think he would visit his Aunt in the Barrow, but he needed to know where she was. Until his visit to the Barrow, her ashes had remained for some time, with a Funeral Director, because ‘nowhere felt right.’ 

Mid-England Barrow can be for you whatever you want it to be, a meeting place for family and friends to truly feel close to that person, or just a named location, so family know exactly where their loved one is.

 

Can Human and Animal ashes be Stored Together?

We are a nation of pet lovers. Around half of all households in the UK own a pet, and I’m sure a number of those owners consider their pets part of the family, after all, a considerable amount of us spend large amounts on treats, holiday accommodation (kennels) and other ‘essential’ items for their animals.

 It is also becoming more popular for us to want to remain with our pets after death, however, places where this can be done are few and far between.

 At Mid-England Barrow all pet ashes are welcome, whether they be accompanied by their loyal human or not. The pet ashes can be contained with the human ashes, or in a separate mini-urn beside.

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Open days

Since we completed the build and landscaping last monday 29th July, we have been having open days on Saturday and Wednesday afternoons. We are delighted to say we have had visitors on every open afternoon, and have received very positive feedback, thank you all those who have come to see the barrow. We are continuing with open days on every Saturday and Wednesday afternoons from 1-4pm . If you wish to visit outside of these times, pleae contact us to arrange, thank you.

Mid-England Barrow entrance . . .

Mid-England Barrow entrance . . .

Meeting with another barrow owner . . . .

Last weekend we travelled down to Dorset , and went to see another barrow under constuction. This barrow is being built by Joanna Vassie who has the Higher Ground Meadow natural burial ground. It was a pleasure to meet with Jo, and we had a tour around the barrow, which is quite impressive and has almost 1000 niches !

It is constructed from Purbeck stone and is built in a shape resembling a clock face. As we have done with the other 3 barrows, we took a piece of Horton quarry stone from our facade and swapped it with a piece of purbeck stone, which we have placed inside our barrow.

A piece of purbeck stone inside Mid-England Barrow.

A piece of purbeck stone inside Mid-England Barrow.

We have now just completed the stonework on our build, but we wish Jo well on hers, and hope to see the finished barrow in due course.

Does Farnborough now have Two Historic Attractions?

Farnborough Hall, in the village of Farnborough, Warwickshire was built in 1684, and is a beautiful home and National Trust property, with stunning landscaped gardens. 

Less than 2 miles away, now sits Mid-England Barrow, possibly even built with stone from the same quarry at Horton near Banbury. 

Richard and Sarah, owners of Mid-England Barrow were lucky enough to visit Farnborough Hall last week, (followed by a delicious tea in the village hall afterwards). It feels different to many NT properties, in that the majority of the time, it is a family home.

The grounds are amazing, this tree is just one of the sights to see.

 

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Mid-England Barrow are pleased to announce that once the build is completed, predicted to be during July 2019, open days will be held to tie in with those of Farnborough Hall: each Wednesday and Saturday afternoon until the end of September. That way, visitors to either or both venues can benefit from the tea and cakes served in the village hall in Farnborough without travelling more than a couple of miles.

Ceramic Artist, Ann Bates, visits Mid-England Barrow

A beautiful example of Ann’s work . . . .

A beautiful example of Ann’s work . . . .

On a beautiful sunny day, Derbyshire artist , Ann Bates, visited Mid-England Barrow, to see her fourth modern barrow. Ann, of Ann Bates Ceramics, specialises in making completely individual urns, tailormade to suit the families wishes.

The following, taken from Ann’s website, tells her story:

“My interest in making my own pottery began in 1989 at a local evening class and the sheer joy of working with clay was immediate.

I soon realised that Ceramics is a vast subject and wanting to find out more about techniques, glazing and firings embarked on a course at Chesterfield College. The experience proved invaluable and led me to apply for a place on the Applied Art degree course at Derby University; I graduated in 2000 with a First Class (Hons) degree.

After I graduated my partner and I decided to become self-employed and share a building in Cromford, Derbyshire.  He ran a quantity surveying practice and I had my own pottery workshop and showroom.  This worked well until unfortunately my partner died.  I was unable to carry on renting the building on my own and decided to move my pottery business and work from home.

Working with clay helped me through bereavement and I wanted to make something to acknowledge this. Through research I found that commercially produced funerary urns, of a permanent nature, often left me feeling cold and empty. There seemed to be nothing uplifting about them. They were simply a container for ashes, often smooth or shiny and without character.

I thought I could improve on this and set about designing and making my own one-off, hand built contemporary funerary urns and memory boxes, that I hoped, in a discreet way, might celebrate life and be of some comfort to those who remain.

An interest in ancient standing stones with their carved decoration and symbols gave me a starting point. This led to research into burial mounds of the Neolithic period and consequently to investigate the newly built barrows that have chambers with niches to hold funerary urns containing cremated remains. The Long Barrow in Wiltshire is constructed in a similar way to those built in Neolithic times and is the first to be built in Britain for 5000 years. Some of my urns now rest in this barrow, a place for contemplation where people come together to remember their loved ones, spend time and share memories.

More of these structures are being built as people search for meaningful and alternative ways to commemorate the dead. Sacred Stones have built a round barrow Willow Row in Cambridgeshire and Soulton Hall Long Barrow in Shropshire is under construction.

Each funerary urn is made using the slow and considered technique of hand building. This method is the earliest form of pottery-making and it feels natural for me to work in this way. Through it I feel a deep connection to the material and, by adopting markings used in the Neolithic period, to our ancestors. The spiral, the natural form of growth and symbol of everlasting life has captivated me and I use the symbol as my maker’s mark.”

Association of Green Funeral Directors

Mid-England Barrow becomes the first Barrow to become a member of the Association of Green Funeral Directors.

After visiting their stand at the Funeral Show at Stoneleigh Park in June, Mid-England Barrow are delighted to announce that they have been accepted as members of the Association of Green Funeral Directors. This means that we have agreed to comply with a list of pledges making the services we provide fit with their ethos: ‘the association expects its members to always aim for the highest level of service possible, both personal and practical. This includes providing clear pricing information, empowering each bereaved family to arrange a funeral which meets their individual needs, and allowing them to have as much involvement as they want.’ The pledges cover areas such as embalming, literature , coffins, natural burial and flowers.

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