How much does a grave cost?

by Derek Thompson

Published on 9 March 2021

Grave costs

While ashes can be scattered pretty much anywhere, in all sorts of ways and at no cost, the space race is on when it comes to the cost of a grave and interment of ashes. As it's limited and, therefore, expensive. 

This guide gives you a list of the different costs of a grave you are likely to incur.

Who is this guide for?

  • Those planning a funeral, who have'nt decided whether to be buried or cremated
  • Anyone curious about the cost of a body burial or interment of ashes
  •  Someone worried about the scarcity of burial space and what you can do about it.

Reading time:

 3 mins

The list of possible grave fees and charges

Cremation and burial fees vary hugely across the UK, that is no different with  the cost of a grave for a burial or an interment of ashes.

So here is a list of expenses that you may incur in advance and the expenses for those who take on the responsibility of the grave after you've gone.

The actual costs of course, depend on the crematorium or burial ground you choose. The fees below are for illustration purposes. The figures are taken from the list of fees charged by Royal Borough of Greenwich, London (2021) for a (former) resident. (Non-resident fees are in brackets).

  • Appointment to select a grave - £56 (£56)
  • Exclusive Right of Burial (typically 50 - 99 years) - £2,199 (£8,796)
  • Surcharge for advance purchase of an Exclusive Right of Burial - £2,546 (£10,184)
  • Surcharge for a prime location - £2,393 (£9,572)
  • Interment fee - single depth - coffin (casket can cost more) - £877 (£3,509)
  • Exclusive Right of Burial renewal (typically 10 – 99 years) - £381 (£1,526) - for ten years
  • Permission to erect a memorial (headstone) - £163 (£163)
  • Memorial stone (national average) - £1,016

Further possible costs:

  • Removal of existing memorial stone and installation fee* - £163 (£163)
  • Permission to add a memorial inscription* - £69 (£69)
  • Grave maintenance: e.g. weeding and cutting (1 year) - £69 (£69)
  • Deed of Grant transfer fee - £86 (£86) 
  • Copy of lost Deed - £30 (£30)
  • Copy of lost cremation certificate - typically £15
    *Excludes memorial mason’s costs.  Cost per letter - approx £1.50.  Depends on type of lettering

What is an Exclusive Right of Burial?

Some people are surprised to learn they are not actually purchasing the grave, but in fact the grave space is being leased under what's termed an Exclusive Right of Burial.

The 'exclusive right of burial' gives you the right to say who can be buried in the grave and the right to have a memorial erected on that piece of land, if permitted. However, be mindful that some natural woodland and meadow burial grounds don’t allow any kind of memorial marker.

The Exclusive Right of Burial applies for a set number of years. You will typically find an Exclusive Right of Burial lasting between 50 - 99 years. Usually much less time in areas of the UK where space is at a premium, such as London.

Nevertheless, it is possible to find a cemetery that will allow you to buy an Exclusive Right of Burial 'in perpetuity', which means no more fees for your family to pay in the future. Although, this option is rare and getting rarer by the year.

When the Exclusive Right of Burial has expired, it will need to be purchased again, which would be the same cost as when first purchased plus any price increase.

Exclusive Right of Burial & interment fees 2021

In the examples above: Fees will be doubled for a non-resident at the cemetery. There is no additional fee for non-residents at the natural burial ground.

What is a Deed of Grant?

When you purchase your Exclusive Right of Burial, you will receive a Deed of Grant (or Certificate) issued in your name. This makes you, the registered grave owner and gives you the Right to lease the plot from the burial ground.

Going forward you will need to produce the deed for each burial and anytime you want to renew the Exclusive Right of Burial.  Finally, the Deed can be transferred during the owner's lifetime or after their death but there would be a charge. 

Deed of Grant transfer fee
Example: Torbay Crematorium & Cemeteries 2021

Transfer ownership £55

How many people can be buried in a grave?

The number of 'lifetime residents' is limited to the depth of the grave purchased or space in an above the ground chamber, vault, niche or mausoleum. This would usually be for up to four body burials and space for up to four ashes interments. The number are likely to differ dependant on  burial grounds and the type of burial grounds.

Furthermore, it's standard policy for a natural meadow or woodland burial ground to allow only one person to be buried in a shallow grave. So if a natural burial is the way you want to go and you want to be with your nearest and dearest, then consider purchasing adjacent plots. 

How much does grave maintenance cost?

The upkeep of the grounds is the responsibility of the place of cremation or burial. Usually the upkeep of your actual grave could be up to you or someone else, however this would take an investment of personal time. Alternatively, you could employ the services of a grave tending company - especially if you live far away.

Typically a contract to maintain the grave would include cleaning the headstone of algae, mould and moss; weeding; cutting of the grass, planting seasonal bulbs; replacing faded flower displays or placing fresh flowers on your grave at agreed intervals, also a photo of the work done.

Cost of grave maintenance:
Example: Grave Care International

£99 per annum (1 visit)

A word of caution if you are thinking of buying a grave in advance

Some burial grounds will allow you to purchase a grave in advance so you can pick your favourite spot, although there may be a surcharge for this. 

Other burial grounds will only allow the grave to be purchased at the time of need.  This poses a serious problem if you want to be buried with or next to loved ones, or in a particular area of a specific cemetery. This is because there's no guarantee that such a space will be available when the time comes.  

Highlighting the importance of ensuring you let loved ones know your preference for an alternative location, just in case.


21 amazing things to do with your ashes
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About the author 

Derek Thompson

Derek Thompson is a writer and author, who has written extensively about grief and the funeral industry. He thinks humour is a much-underrated commodity. And thanks to a mix-up, when his name was read out during a committal, instead of his brother’s, he has technically been to his own funeral.

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