Since ancient times people have chosen to record and mark the death and last resting places of their loved ones in a permanent way.
For many centuries this was in graveyards, sometimes with a headstone, sometimes not. But grave records of burial locations recording the name, life-dates and the last resting place of the deceased are surprisingly complete.
Providing they know the graveyard family historians can accumulate a wealth of information about our ancestors, their family connections, what they did, and how our forefathers lived.
From slow beginnings, over the last 140 years cremation has grown to become the funeral of choice for more than 80% of the UK population.
Although deaths are still meticulously recorded, most cremated remains are scattered not interred; the “last resting places” of the vast majority go unrecorded, their graves left unmarked, the sense of ‘place’ for relatives and descendants to connect with the loved one is lost.
More recently cremation is changing: many people choose unattended funerals for their loved ones; instead of a ceremony at the crematorium they choose to hold a small personal ceremony around the ashes, carefully selecting an informal location of special significance, perhaps a first meeting place, a cherished view, a favourite glade.
These are meaningful places to the deceased and their loved ones and should be part of any life record, and supplying a service to record this information permanently online is what ashes register is about.
Our Founder’s Story
The concept of the Ashes Register came to me after a long personal journey: I lost my father in 1993 — Dad was a keen golfer and the family decided to scatter his ashes at his golf club and have a bench dedicated to him. We placed the bench at one of his favourite spots at the golf club, and then scattered his ashes near the fairway of the last hole he played.
When we returned a few years later the memorial bench had been moved leading to a protracted debate in the family about where the ashes were scattered.
It occurred to me that if this was a problem for our family there must be many others in the same situation. In even a short space time memories are lost, recollections are distorted and the last resting places of loved ones can be forgotten.
My thoughts turned to how many people must this apply to? When you add up the number of people that have been cremated over the last 40 years or so and realise that most families opt to scatter them, the figure runs into millions – and now no one knows where they are, no record is made. In fact, the early part of the 21st century is the first time since the Middle-Ages that a person’s last resting place has not been recorded.
So then why haven’t the government stepped up with a registration facility?
In truth the process occupies and grey area of law and is beyond government jurisdiction. Yes, it is legal to scatter pretty much anywhere—but you need the landowner’s permission.
So, in 2015 I started began to form the idea of creating a register for this essential data. In my view it had to be entirely free of charge at the personal level.
To achieve that we needed to bring together a number of people — Crematoriums, Direct Cremation Companies, Funeral Directors — who compete in normal life but worked with us to bring together this resource
Now we are pleased to offer the public this unique opportunity to memorialise a loved one in perpetuity knowing that this precious record is kept safe and secure for current and future generations.