About the burial ground and landowners
The landowner, Rosie Humphreys, lives in Usk and has farmed Little Castle Farm since 1991; it adjoins the land owned by her husband Henry. Usk Castle Chase natural burial ground was the first of the Leedam burial grounds to be opened and has been open since 2005.
The land was once part of Usk castle, a Chase or hunting forest to supply food for the castle garrison. The castle was built in Norman times so was unsuitable for cannons, and fell into disrepair after 1469, when it was replaced by the magnificent Raglan Castle.
The extensive woodlands in the landscape around the meadow were planted by Henry’s father, Rudge Humphreys, after WW2. The farm is about 500 acres of grassland and woods with sheep and cattle on the pastures, often to be seen in the view from the meadow.
Why did Rosie decide to set up the burial ground?
The local council asked landowners in the area if they would sell some land for a cemetery, as St Mary’s churchyard was full. As Usk lies in a flood plain, farmers were not willing to sell any fields. However, Rosie had heard a programme about natural burials and thought she could make a natural burial ground that would be a beautiful part of the landscape, so offered to set one up rather than selling the land. In a moment of serendipity, Rosie was introduced by a friend to James Leedam, who was looking for a site for a natural burial meadow, and being a surveyor, had all the right skills to help set one up.
Why was that meadow chosen?
The meadow looks down the Usk valley to the blue ridge of Wentwood, with the endlessly changing, unfolding landscape. People find the lovely view restful and pleasing to the eye.