Funeral Traditions in Sussex

woman with lily flowers and coffin at funeral

Sussex, like the tea found in many a teacup during afternoon tea, is steeped in history. The residents of this temperate county hold their traditions, like their tea, close to their hearts.

If you’re looking for a place to spend your holiday, Sussex is an excellent choice. It has no shortage of beachy resorts, historic castles, and quaint villages to visit. 

But, from time to time, you find that there are more sombre reasons to visit. As with all other traditions, funeral traditions remain a source of pride for the residents of Sussex. 

Keep reading to learn more about the traditional funeral ceremonies of Sussex. 

Funeral Preparations

It’s common in the UK to make a formal funeral announcement. This usually happens about a week before the ceremony in the local newspaper. 

The announcement includes a brief memorial to the deceased and the details of the funeral procession. This allows friends and family who may not be in contact with the immediate family to attend the funeral. It’s traditional in South England to open funerals to the public unless the family specifically requests a private service.

When preparing for a funeral in Sussex, remember that it’s traditional and appropriate to wear black. Occasionally, families will request that guests wear other colours, but this is rare. And if there is no announcement, black is the best option. 

Men should wear a pressed black suit with an optional tie. Women may wear whatever black clothing they like. But it is traditional to wear a black dress, and if you have one, a formal black hat. 

The Service & Procession

The funeral service is most often held in a church. The casket is displayed near the altar with the immediate family sitting in the first few rows of the church. 

In some cases, the casket might be laid out at the chapel of rest located in the funeral home. Many years ago, family members kept the body at their home. But with concern for hygiene, this was eventually moved to the chapel of rest.

After the service, there is a funeral procession. A traditional procession begins with the hearse which contains the funeral flowers. Several vehicles carrying the family members follow the hearse. 

Paging is a southern England tradition where the funeral director walks ahead of the hearse for a few hundred yards. Paging slows down the procession, allowing neighbours and those passing by to stop and pay their respect. 

The procession leads to the cemetery, where pallbearers lower the casket into the ground. Loved ones throw a handful of dirt onto the casket as it’s lowered. In some cases, they may throw flowers or personal mementoes as well. 

After the Burial

The wake is the final ceremony of a traditional UK funeral. In other countries, the wake is held before the funeral. But in South England, wakes are traditionally done after the funeral is over. 

A wake can be hosted in the home of the deceased or in a local inn or pub. Holding the wake at a public place can give your family and friends more room to move around. And you won’t have to worry about preparing food for the event. 

The wake is an opportunity to celebrate the life of the deceased. People can share stories about their loved one and enjoy some food and drinks along the way. 

Funeral Traditions of South England

It can be hard to say goodbye to a loved one. But following the funeral traditions of South England can offer you a way to bring closure to this difficult time.