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Durham University

Special Collections



In 1983 the curtain closing around a catafalque, the removal of a coffin to the committal chamber, books of remembrance, columbaria and memorial gardens were not a part of any funeral ceremony in Great Britain. The practice and the space of the crematorium have developed and have become a part of our modern day death ritual.

The Cremation Society have been involved in the establishment and building of crematoria, particularly from 1942 when the Society appointed an Architect to their panel of experts with the intention of building attractive and well planned crematoria as seen in this letter


The architecture of a crematorium is of great importance to the shape of funeral rituals and impact upon mourners. They also collect papers and published works that explore these developments and their links to ritual.

In this letter the General Secretary of the Cremation Society responds to an enquiry from an Architectural student regarding a project to design a crematorium . It references traffic flow and the comfort of mourners. This letter is by no means unusual; the Society kept a substantial number of letters from such students and even had ties with architectural colleges.