Tessa and Jeremy Russell
Dorset landowners & custodians
The Dorset Downs natural burial meadow sits in the heart of the West Dorset countryside, above the village of Compton Valence, just five miles from the county town of Dorchester. This beautiful land, a designated part of the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is farmed by the Russell family, who have lived here for several generations.
The natural burial ground is restored to pre-war downland, ploughed for many years in a drive for more home-grown food. The adjacent downland is already a Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI) and it is expected that within a relatively short space of time the natural burial ground will become imbued with the same wildflower species.
A secure future
The burial ground is an integral part of the Russell’s Farm and the long-term preservation of the land is important to them. The burial meadow is maintained with a light touch and as a wild and natural place. There may be sheep grazing, as well as occasional mowing.
Use of the land is otherwise restricted to natural burials by covenants contained in its 99-year lease. Beyond that, the burial ground will continue to be used for agriculture when the lease expires.
Do we need to use a funeral director?
There is no legal requirement in the UK to use a funeral director. The professionals are there to support you and help you achieve what you want to do. A good funeral director will provide the help and support you need when you need it.
What’s to stop people from building on the land?
Use of the land is restricted to natural burials by covenants contained in its 99-year lease. Beyond that, the burial ground is an integral part of the Russell Estate and will continue to provide land for grazing and hay-making when the lease expires.
Can we buy a double plot?
Burial and interment plots are single-depth, and double-plots are side-by-side.
What type of coffins can be used?
Coffins should be made from and lined with natural, biodegradable materials. No plastics, MDF, or chipboard should be used.
Is embalming allowed?
We can’t accept embalmed bodies for burial unless there are exceptional circumstances. Cremated remains contain no residue from embalming chemicals and can therefore be interred in the meadow.
Can I visit the burial ground over Christmas and New Year?
Yes, you can go and visit the burial ground any time during the Christmas holidays, regardless of bank holidays – This is the case all year round for visits, it is always open for you to visit a loved one.
Download an information pack
Whether you're arranging a funeral now or planning for the future, we have put together information packs for you to download.
Visiting the burial ground
We recommend that before you make the decision to purchase a burial or interment plot, you go to visit the burial ground, to make sure it is the right place for you and your family.
The site is open all year round during daylight hours so please feel free to visit without making an appointment. The pedestrian gate is always open. Or if you would like a guided tour around the ground, please get in touch with Tessa, the landowner and custodian, who will be happy to meet you there.
We recommend using What3Words to find the burial ground entrance, as the postcode is not accurate. Click on this link to go to the W3W address and you can use this to navigate to the burial ground.
Dorset Downs Natural Burial Meadow (not for postal correspondence)