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Cremations at Colchester Crematorium

Facilities and services, the cremation process, Garden of Remembrance, about the crematorium, and open days and tours.


  • Facilities
  • Services in the Crematorium Chapel
  • The cremation process
  • Garden of Remembrance

Colchester Crematorium opened in 1957 and since then over 97,000 funeral services have been held there. The building nestles in the middle of the 6 acre Garden of Remembrance, at the South West side of the large and beautiful cemetery. It is made of soft red brick with a tiled roof and tall elegant windows and is decorated in soft pastel colours to promote an elegant and tranquil feeling.


The chapel seats over 120 people but there is room for more people standing.

Music is supplied by the Wesley Music System to allow you to choose any recorded music. The Wesley System also allows the service to be recorded as a DVD or on CD. An organ is available if you prefer to hire your own organist. A funeral director will organise that for you.

All visitors are catered for. We provide:

  • a loop system available on request
  • large print hymn and service books available on request
  • a wheelchair available on request.  If you bring your own chair and tell us in advance, we will remove a couple of chairs in the chapel to allow you to sit comfortably.
  • an easy access lavatory
  • level access everywhere.

The waiting suite provides:

  • comfortable chairs and sofas
  • a drinks machine
  • a water cooler
  • lavatories.

Services in the Crematorium Chapel

Services in the chapel may be conducted by:

  • a minister of a religion
  • a humanist or secular celebrant 
  • a family member or friend of the family.

Services are set 45 minutes apart, of which 30 minutes are permitted per service. It is possible to book a double length service for a relatively small additional fee if more time is required.

Within the time allotted there is generally time for a piece of music to played as the coffin enters the crematorium, followed by an introduction, some thoughts about the deceased, some prayers if appropriate, one or two hymns or pieces of music during a period of reflection, and a piece of music to be played while you leave the chapel.

The cross may be removed if required. If people in wheelchairs are attending and notice is given, one or two chairs can be removed from one of the rows so the wheelchair can be slotted unobtrusively in.

The cremation process

Cremation is carried out sensitively and respectfully by trained and qualified technicians, in a clean and well equipped environment. Each deceased is cremated individually, as soon as possible, often while the family are still looking at their flowers on the Flower Court.

The deceased is identified as soon as it is received into the crematory, by a name card with unique cremation number. The card stays with the remains all the way through the process until the remains are collected by the funeral director or family, buried in the cemetery, scattered in the Garden of Remembrance, or placed in a Columbarium. This should reassure families that the remains they receive are definitely those of their loved one.

Usually the cremation of an adult person of average height and build will take about an hour and a half. The cremated remains, or ashes as they are often referred to, may usually be collected within 4 to 4.5 hours of the funeral service.

Garden of Remembrance

The Garden of Remembrance is a tranquil green space, extending to 6 acres of beautifully tended lawns, rose beds, shrub beds and mature trees. Many of the roses, shrubs and trees are adopted in memory of loved ones, and there are always some available for new adoptions.

Other memorials in the Garden of Remembrance include columbarium niches, walls of Remembrance, and in a room opening into the Garden The Book of Remembrance is housed. Families should contact the friendly staff in the crematorium office for either an appointment to be shown the memorials on offer or for written information.

Open days and tours

The staff at the crematorium feel there is nothing to hide at the crematorium, and much to be proud of, so each year they open their doors to the public and conduct tours of both the chapel and behind the scenes.

During the behind the scenes tours questions are answered frankly and directly, in order that myths should be exploded and fears allayed. The staff of the crematorium process feel that where there are, arguably, lots of things to be worried about in this life, fears about the cremation process should not be one of them, and therefore truthful explanations of the process are key.

Contact the crematorium

Contact the helpful crematorium staff for information on services, music, memorials and Open Days. They will be happy to help with any of your questions or concerns.