Longhorn member Richard Beeby and his partner Sarah Smart of the Starhire herd have launched a unique diversification project, with the Longhorn cattle providing a beautiful backdrop to their specialist venture.
'Imagine a peaceful place, birds singing, bees and butterflies in abundance, wild flowers moving in the breeze, and fresh countryside air. Now imagine that this is the venue for your funeral, or celebration of life.
Whilst the options for another of life's great events, the wedding, has evolved to offer almost any conceivable scenario from a pop star impersonator celebrant, to tying the knot underwater, it seems funerals, memorials, or celebrations of life remain traditionally held in churches, crematoriums, village halls or pubs.
What's more, whilst there are now ‘outside the box' options for what to do with cremation ashes, for example, painting the remains into a picture, making into jewellery, or shooting into the atmosphere by firework, there isn't much midway between the quirky and the traditional burial, scattering, or as many do, leaving them at the funeral directors, or worse, on a shelf in the garage!
With 75% of people in the UK now being cremated, and graveyards becoming full, an alternative is essential.
It seems though, as if this gap may about to be filled, by the building of a Round Barrow. On the Northamptonshire, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire border Richard and Sarah have taken the unusual step of opening up their working farm, to build a Barrow for ashes storage and to offer rural funerals.
Round Barrows or tumuli were first built in the UK around 5000 years ago, and can be found all over the country, a number being sited around Stone Henge. 5000 years ago they were erected over graves, but the modern ones offer individual niches for urns.
Richard and Sarah, owners of Mid-England Barrow said ‘the modern barrow offers a final resting place of peace and tranquility, built from locally sourced stone, handshaped to fit each and every spot. Inside its cool environment or aura, gives a breathtaking sense of mystery, and that rare feeling when a shiver goes down your spine'.
Sarah added ‘Having paid our respects at a farmer friends' non-religious funeral held at a crematorium, we decided a rural venue with the Barrow would be the basis of a new business for us.'
The individual niches, with completely personalised covers are built nestled into the walls by the skilled craftsmen who create these wonderful structures.
Mid-England Barrow has secured funding through the RPA's Rural Development Programme for England from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.