Sarah Wickham

Pembrokeshire landowner and custodian
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About the burial ground

Where is the burial ground in Pembrokeshire?

Pembrokeshire Natural Burials is beside the village of Keeston. You will find us off St David’s Road (A487) about halfway between Newgale and Haverfordwest.

How long has it been running?

We opened the natural burial ground in the Summer of 2020. Since opening, we have seen an amazing transformation. During this time we have welcomed new wildflowers and wildlife as we restore and re-establish nature-rich habitats.

Who owns the land?

The land is owned by Sarah Wickham and Dai Edwards-Grota.

About the landowners

Introduction to Sarah, Jesse and Dai

Sarah, our custodian, is a local celebrant. She helps families to arrange funerals and watches over the meadow. She also looks after the natural burial ground and the people who use it. On occasion, you may meet our little helper Jesse. Jesse is Sarah’s son and he has played an important part in shaping the natural burial ground. Jesse has helped to build the bug hotel and plant the new native hedgerow and it is very much a family venture.

Dai, a local farmer who was born and raised in Pembrokeshire, is our gravedigger. He helps with the general maintenance of the meadow. It is his sheep and lambs you may find grazing the grass.

About the land

The land that the natural burial ground occupies was part of a new farm venture. This natural progression of farm diversification allows the farm to be sustainable, while giving something back to the community. When it was first purchased the meadow was overgrown and was not providing nature-rich habitats.

Diversifying with the natural burial ground has allowed the landowners to sympathetically farm the land. It means they can support native habitats while offering peaceful resting places in unhurried, beautiful countryside. Moreover, they want it to remain part of the much loved Pembrokeshire countryside. The burial ground has given them the opportunity to offer a permissive walk, and this has been gratefully received by the local community.

Why did they decide to set up the burial ground?

The concept of natural burial was not new to Sarah. As a funeral celebrant, she has officiated at other natural burial grounds in South Wales. Sarah saw an opportunity when she realised Pembrokeshire did not have a natural burial ground. Pembrokeshire has some of the most beautiful countryside and a natural burial ground would help to protect it and give people the option of a beautiful, natural alternative to traditional cemeteries.

Why did they choose that meadow?

Sarah –

“We chose the meadow because it felt like there was something special about it. When you are standing in the meadow, countryside and open views surround you. When you walk to the top of the meadow and take in the view of the Preseli Mountains it is breathtaking. I never get tired of seeing that view and we felt like it was something we wanted to share.”

The meadow also has some wonderful natural ecosystems, including the wetland, that we aim to re-establish. These have been hidden from the outside world and now we have been able to share this with the local community.

What is your vision for the future?

Since opening in 2020, we have seen a big difference in the wildflowers and wildlife that are using the meadow. Now, it is a place full of birdsong which is buzzing with the hum of bees. We are currently planting native trees, creating alder groves to shelter sheep and a corner for wildlife to call home. We want to continue making this a special place that people and wildlife love to visit.

Our vision is to make people aware of this choice and that it is a place they can celebrate the life of those they love in a special way. In the near future, we will be building a wooden memorial shelter and composting toilet. As funeral and burial practices evolve our plan is to work with these and with the wishes of those who use us.

We have also extended this to natural pet burial and including pets ashes as part of a natural burial. This isn’t always something that is possible at other burial grounds.

Our dream is for the natural burial ground to be a place that will remain loved and unspoilt. Somewhere that is sympathetically farmed and rewilded in areas. We want it to remain an important part of our countryside long after we have gone. But also a place people can use for generations to come that focuses on fond memories.

We want it to offer a sustainable way to live with our planet, which includes the choices we make when we die.

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