The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville


Easter Edition 2014

Visit to The Oaks

On 4 March just over twenty of us visited The Oaks Crematorium, the building gradually coming into view as you enter the site. It is owned by Southern Co-operative.  

Terry, from Edwards Funeral Directors, conducted us on our tour. The waiting room has a floor to ceiling window overlooking the woodland. An audiovisual feedback screen was showing artists’ impressions of the site when finished.   

The Service Hall is non-denominational but a cross or other religious symbol can be displayed. A floor to ceiling window overlooks a planted courtyard and the woodland. There is a state of the art media system with a screen for audiovisual playback so that pictures, images or a video pertaining to the deceased can be shown. Should there be too many mourners to fit into the Service Hall the screen in the waiting room can relay the same images and music. A vast selection of music and hymns can be played. The service can be recorded, and a live web-cast produced. Terry demonstrated a hymn played on the digital organ and the sound was indistinguishable from a real organ.

Terry explained the transit of the deceased after the service. The two cremators are bigger than in neighbouring crematoria, to accommodate the increasing number of large people. Sustainability is an important part of the design. The modern equipment means there is no pollution to the environment.  Rigorous checks ensure that cremated remains are always correctly identified by name. The “living” roof is planted with sedum as insulation. The large amount of heat produced is harnessed for the building’s heating and hot water and could even supply the adjacent hospital.  

The Flower Courtyard where floral tributes are placed leads off from the Service Hall. The focal point is a water feature.

A Book of Remembrance is located within its own small building in the gardens. Pages of the book are turned daily and the entries written in calligrapher’s script.

We walked around the grounds, past rockeries, a lawned area for scattering ashes, the area that will be a wild flower meadow, around the woodland glade and natural pond before returning to the main building. An area of Memorial Mounds is being developed for completion later this year with “valleys” containing stone orbs and memorial tablets on the mounds. Cremated remains are not buried at this site because of legal complexities but a stone orb can commemorate the deceased, whether ashes are interred inside or had been scattered. In the woodland area there are wooden memorial orbs. These, like the stone orbs, will weather in time.

My abiding memory is of the tranquillity of the whole area, the peace only broken by birdsong in the surrounding woodland.

Rosy Stone