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Frequently asked questions - Cremation

    Traditional Crematorium

    ​The City of London Traditional Crematorium


People often have many questions regarding Cremation practices and procedures.  Some of the most frequently asked questions are listed below, simply select the question to reveal the answer.

If the question you have is not listed below, please don't hesitate to contact our Bereavement Services team on 020 8530 2151 or email

For more information regarding Cremation, Burial or any of our other services please download our Funeral Brochure here  (6.17 MB)

How many people use cremation today in Great Britain?

​Since 1968 when the number of cremations exceeded burials for the first time, cremation has increased considerably. Current figures suggest that around 70% of all funerals are cremations.

Do any religious groups forbid cremation?

All current Christian denominations, including the Roman Catholic Church, allow cremation, as do Sikhs, Hindus, Parsees and Buddhists. It is however forbidden by Orthodox Jews and Muslims.

Is cremation more expensive that burial?

​No. Generally the cost of a grave is much higher than the fee charged for cremation although the funeral charges are similar for both services. The only additional charge for cremation arises when the death has not been referred to a coroner and two doctors need to be paid for the necessary certificates. This does not apply to burial.

What religious ceremony can I have with cremation?

​The service for burial and cremation is the same apart from the form of committal sentences. The service may take place at your own place of worship with a short committal service in the crematorium chapel, or you may have the whole service at the crematorium chapel. Alternatively, you may prefer a civil ceremony be conducted, or even no service at all.

Can relatives witness the committal of the coffin to the cremator?

​Yes. There is a viewing room that overlooks our crematory, where you may witness the committal taking place. This room is equipped with CCTV enabling all of those in the room to clearly see the committal. The Crematorium must be informed that you wish to use our viewing facilities when the cremation is booked, so that we may ensure that the viewing facility is available on the day.

Is the coffin cremated with the body?

​Yes. The IBCA Guiding Principles state that the container and the body shall be placed in cremator and cremation commenced. The coffin or container with the body inside shall not be opened or otherwise disturbed, other than in exceptional circumstances, and then only with the express permission and in the presence of the Applicant for Cremation (usually the executor or next of kin).

How soon after the service will the cremation take place?

​The IBCA Guiding Principles state that the container and the body shall be placed in a cremator and cremation commenced no later than 24 hours after the service of committal. Where cremation may not be carried out on the same day, the Applicant for Cremation shall be notified.

This means that under normal circumstances the cremation is usually carried out shortly after the service and certainly on the same day. However, when a service takes place late in the day, the cremation can take place the next morning.

Can more than one body be cremated at a time?

​No, each cremation is carried out separately. However, exceptions can be made in the case of a mother and baby or small twin children, so long as the next of kin or executor has made this specific request.

Are coffins sold back to the funeral director for re-use?

​No. The coffin and the body inside are cremated together. There are occasions where the deceased or the family of the deceased have opted for using a cardboard coffin in which their loved one will be cremated. When this happens families often want to have a more aesthetically pleasing coffin or container on the catafalque during the service. Families therefore will opt for either a pall (a cloth covering the cardboard coffin), or a 'cocoon coffin' (an outer shell that covers the cardboard coffin). Neither the pall nor the cocoon is cremated. It is important to understand that the pall and cocoon do NOT contain the body of the deceased, they are simply superficial coverings for a cardboard coffin.

How are the Ashes kept separate?

​A cremator can only accept one coffin at a time and all the remains are removed from the cremator before the next cremation. An identity card is used throughout the whole process until the final disposal, thereby ensuring correct identification.