Oak Crosses, Plaques and Memorial Posts


Oak Crosses, Plaques and Memorial Posts

St Albans Woodland Burial Trust recognises the importance which many people attach to an appropriate memorial at a grave. In commercial cemeteries it is common practice for memorials to be erected made from natural stone such as granite, imported from across the world. The Trustees prefer a more sustainable alternative and have authorised the use of wooden memorials which are inscribed locally by Mr Peter Aspinal. Peter has provided dignified oak memorials which are sympathetic to the setting of our woodland and which provide a personal, individual tribute. We asked Peter to describe how he produces his memorials...

The oak which I use for the production of the simple crosses, plaques and memorial posts is kiln dried. Due to the restriction of lettering space for the crosses and plaques the wording is kept quite simple. This allows for the letters to be large enough to read easily and for them to last longer. The memorial posts are larger, and there is a greater opportunity for the family to be involved in the designs and the wording. I will usually work with clients to produce a special design which is particularly appropriate. One of the first steps is to produce layout drawings for the family to approve, before commencing work.

The designs and the lettering are first cut into a stencil, I will either use a computer or draw by hand, depending on the complexity of the designs. These are then lightly sandblasted into the oak to produce a clear outline to work from. At this stage I use a pyrography machine to burn the letters and the design deeply into the wood, so that it can be seen easily and last longer. Once the design and the lettering have been burnt into the wood, a wire brush is used to get rid of any loose carbon deposits and the timber is sanded to ensure a clean edge. An environmentally friendly organic oil is then used to highlight the designs and to help preserve the oak. A second coat of oil is brushed in prior to fixing. I avoid the use of varnish and other substances, although these might preserve the oak more effectively, I seek always to use a natural and environmentally friendly product. For the same reason, the crosses and plaques are glued together, to avoid the use of nails or screws. Finally the posts are buried approximately 14” into the ground with about 28” above ground level.

The oak will last a long time, but inevitably, out in all weathers, the timber will deteriorate over time. Small cracks will appear, especially in very dry weather. They will be less obvious when it rains and the wood swells. The object of the woodland burial ground at Keysoe is to maintain a natural environment and a place where families can experience a peaceful experience, encouraging an environmentally friendly burial ground. It is always my intention to be sympathetic to these aims, which make this such a special place.

Peter Aspinal

Prices will vary depending on the complexity, but Samantha Ware, the Administrator, will always be able to make the necessary arrangements. So do give us a call and we will be happy to discuss options and give quotes at no cost.

Memorial Benches

Dedicating Memorials

Memorial Benches

The benches at St Albans Woodland Burial Trust are carved by local woodworker Ed Burnett. Ed had this to say:-

We are often asked where the wood comes from for the benches. Well in keeping with our desire to be sustainable, we try and source all the wood we use locally and we are currently using timber purchased in Carlton and which was felled in Putnoe Wood in Bedford.

Oak is the best wood to use for these benches as it has natural tannins that help it to last a long time out of doors and it is a joy to carve. We enhance this natural longevity of oak timber by using eco-friendly timber treatment and we are reviewing our treatment at the moment to try and improve the appearance of the benches. Oak can crack, bend and warp after installation. This can be because oak of this dimension may take years to fully season, so it continues to dry out once the bench is constructed.The Beautiful British weather can also be challenging and the hot days of early summer and the long, icy winters of the past two years have put some extremes of temperature on the benches.

I have carved some unusual designs ranging from simple flowers, to complex Celtic patterns. Almost anything can be carved but we are careful to confirm any designs before starting carving. Designs are sometimes provided by the family and all the designs we use are hand drawn and carved using a mallet and chisels. Lettering and inscriptions vary in length and size and from this year we can also offer pyrography which makes carving stand out in black.

Ed Burnett

As with the Memorial Posts above etc. prices will vary for the carving and complexity, but Samantha Ware, the Administrator, will be able to make the necessary arrangements. Give us a call and we will be happy to discuss options and provide quotes at no cost.

Memorial Trees

Dedicating Trees

Trees with Oak Plaques

Graves are marked simply with a wooden plaque laid on the ground, however if you wish, The Trustees allow the dedication of a tree in memory of somebody who has passed away, together with an optional oak plaque. The tree placed close to the grave becomes a dedicated, living memorial to the loved one who lies nearby. A number of these can be seen at the woodland as you walk by.

You can arrange for the dedication of a tree at the time of a burial or at a later occasion. You can find details about the costs here:- Funeral Costs. Should you opt for the inscribed wooden memorial plaque too, this will be placed beside the tree and is arranged by the Trust for a small additional fee.

Please do give us a call and chat about it, especially if you have any questions.