Usk Castle Chase is well known for offering families peaceful and beautiful resting places in beautiful Monmouthshire countryside. The natural burial meadow is also somewhere private to hold a different type of send off, perhaps one that is simpler and closer to nature. It's a place where families can be as modest or extravagant, traditional or off-beat, celebratory or ceremonial as they wish - with the freedom to choose what they want.
When someone becomes a part of the natural burial ground they become a part of its history and we are often privileged to hear about their life history, who they were and why a natural burial was right for them. Occasionally, during these conversations, their own family members even find out something about their life that they never knew, a hidden gem that conjours up a smile.
We thought it was about time that we shared some of our hidden gems that maybe even people who have visited the burial ground never knew about.
The Fox Hole; Somewhere in the burial meadow, we have a Foxhole, not the furry kind, but from World War II. This Operation Base was part of the Usk World War II resistance. Owen Sheers' book,‘Resistance’ (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resistance_(Sheers_novel)), goes into the history of this in a bit more detail, but this was part of underground movement disrupting invaders if they ever managed to progress as far as Usk. This Foxhole has been carefully restored with the help of CADW and remains one of our hidden gems, but it is not a secret anymore. If people want to visit this restored monument for themselves and see just how secretive and hidden this part of the war effort was then they are more than welcome. It is an important part of our history and one we want to share.
The Bank of Blue; if you visit the burial meadow in late spring/early summer around the end of April, beginning of May you may be really lucky to see our woodland bank covered in Bluebells. This creates a ‘dappled bank of blue’ which is just beautiful and attracts some wonderful wildlife including our much loved bumblebees.
A Magical Visit. Just before Christmas there is a very special visit from some majestic reindeer's that you can come and visit on the day of the Reindeer Parade. These have previously been overnight residents at the natural burial meadow but now come to the Castle itself and bring a magical atmosphere to Usk Castle Chase. Rosie the custodian of the natural burial who organises this event said, “I do it because I think it's important that the children get a chance to see the reindeer”. It helps to build the magic of the season and since they work so hard for Santa we think it's only right that reindeer's should get the full appreciation they deserve.
Of course, a mile from the burial ground there is Usk castle itself, it may not be completely hidden, but it is one of our gems and the Burial Meadow at Usk Castle Chase proudly shares its names with this amazing monument. The burial ground was part of the old hunting grounds used for the castle so was an important part of the Castle’s history and everyday life. Today it offers a more peaceful and tranquil purpose, helping those who love being close of nature to find a resting place and funeral that is more natural and surrounded by nature.
Stories and thoughts from the Leedam camp.
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