Arranging a funeral during the pandemic

Helping you to say goodbye in difficult times

There has never been a more difficult time to say your last goodbyes to your loved one in a meaningful way. We will do all we can within the current guidelines to help. Your loved one will be cared for by us with the utmost dignity and respect and we will be there to guide you every step of the way, doing our best to make a hard time a little bit easier.

Bringing your loved one into our care

  • If your loved one died in hospital, care home or hospice, we will liaise directly with them to arrange bringing your loved one into our care. We will let you know as soon as they are safely resting with us.

  • If your loved one has died at home, we will need to ask you if they or if anyone in your household may have had the coronavirus or any of its symptoms. This is so we can take the necessary precautions to protect our staff. If this is not the case, our staff will wear the appropriate equipment to protect you and your household.

  • Your loved one can rest at either of our funeral homes.

Registering a death


The way that a death is now registered has completely changed. Registration will now take place over the phone and all documents will be posted or emailed. Please see our guide to how our local registry offices are currently operating, for the information and documents that you will need to have by you.


When you have registered, you will be able to use the Tell Us Once service that lets you report a death to most government organisations in one go. The registrar will give you the details you need to use this service.

You may also wish to stop unwanted direct mail arriving for your loved one. The Bereavement Register provides a free service to help you do this.

Arranging the funeral

We are happy for you to visit us in person at our Newton Abbot and Ashburton funeral homes by appointment, if you and your household is not self-isolating due to showing symptoms of the virus. We ask that a distance of two meters is maintained between us and ask that you observe hand hygiene when you enter our premises. We politely ask that you wear a face covering, if you can, while you are with us. If you have a smart phone with the NHS Covid-19 app installed, you can check into our premises with our unique QR code. If this is not possible, we ask that we can keep your contact details to pass onto the NHS if required to do so. Alternatively, if you are self-isolating, or if  you do not wish to take the risk of visiting us, we can make arrangements over the telephone, via email or video conferencing.

Attendances at all funeral services are limited at the moment so you may like to have a service at a later date when all your friends and family can attend. For your family and friends who won't be able to attend the funeral service, we have put together a few ideas and suggestions.

Direct Cremation

A direct cremation is a cremation without a ceremony or funeral service. You can visit to pay your last respects, at our discretion, if you feel you want to (unless you are affected by Covid-19), before your loved one is taken to the crematorium of our choosing. The ashes will be returned to you afterwards, for you to keep or scatter as you wish.​ 

Attended Cremation Services

Limited attended services can still take place at Exeter, Torquay and East Devon Crematoriums. 


Exeter & Devon Crematorium:

50 mourners in St Peter's Chapel

21 mourners in St Paul's Chapel

Torquay Crematorium:

30 mourners

The crematorium asks that face masks are worn inside their building. It is their preference that pre-recorded music and choral versions of hymns are chosen to keep singing to a minimum.

East Devon Crematorium:

35 mourners

At all the crematoriums, social distancing must be maintained and you should wear a face covering if you can. If you are affected by Covid-19, self-isolating, or are displaying any symptoms of Covid-19 you must not go to the crematorium. Exeter and Torquay crematoriums are offering webcasting at a reduced rate so those who can not attend can follow the service. East Devon Crematorium is offering this service for free.

You can still have a minister or celebrant to lead the service, you can choose pieces of music and have orders of service printed.

Religious Services

Places of worship are now open for services. As each place is unique, please contact us for guidelines. All places of worship will will ask that you wear a face covering, if you are able to. Ministers will also provide a service at a crematorium and graveside burial services.

Burial Services

Graveside services can proceed with the number of attendees to be decided by the burial authority. All mourners are asked to respect social distancing. 

Services at Homelands Hall

Our hall at Newton Abbot is available for a service of celebration for up to 26 mourners. The hall can be set up how you wish, to have a service exactly as you require. Our sound system can be used to play as many pieces of music as you like. Please ask us for our guidelines for using the hall safely at this time.

Some questions about arranging a funeral during Covid-19 answered

Are flowers allowed?

Flowers are allowed for all services. Most florists are now working as normal and a full range of flowers can now be chosen.

Can we have an order of service?

Yes, we can print orders of service for you. We can include any photos or images that you like. We can also provide a PDF version that you can email to family and friends or we can publish a copy on our website on a dedicated page for your loved one.

Can I visit to pay my last respects?

We are happy for you to visit either of our premises to pay your last respects to your loved one, unless you or one of your household is affected by Covid-19 or displaying any of the symptoms. Visiting to pay your last respects is at our discretion and if your loved one suffered from this illness, we would not allow a viewing.

What happens if my loved one has a funeral plan?

Golden Charter: if any services that were planned can't be delivered, Golden Charter are obliged to provide a refund. They will need to know what the cost of the service would have been at today's prices to provide all the service on the plan. We will provide Golden Charter with an itemised invoice with these costs included and then a refund will be issued to you. Ecclesiastical: Ecclesiastical Planning Services will pay the full redemption of the value of the plan to us. If services planned can't be provided at the time of need. We will refund to you the difference between the planned service and the services actually provided. For all other funeral plans held, we will refund to you the difference between what has been planned and what is provided.

Can we have a limousine?

We would not recommend the use of limousines at the moment. We would ask that you meet us at the venue or you follow the hearse in your own vehicles.

Can we follow the hearse?

Yes, you can follow the hearse in your own car. We would not recommend the use of a limousine at the moment.

Can we have a notice in the newspapers?

Yes. Our local newspapers are still being published. However, As the number of mourners that can attend a funeral are so reduced, it is advisable not to announce when and where the ceremony is going to take place. If you are not sure how to word an announcement, we can help you.

Can we have donations for charity?

Yes, but we would adivse that this is set up online. We can still receive cheques but won't be collecting cash. At the moment, charities would probably prefer online donations rather than having to process cheque payments. If you would like our help to set up a collection, please let us know.

Can I come in to see you to make the arrangements for a funeral?

Yes, we are happy for you to visit us in Newton Abbot or Ashburton by appointment, if you and your household is not self-isolating due to showing symptoms of the virus. We ask that the social distancing of 2 meters is observed and we will ask you to clean your hands when you enter our premises. Please also wear a face covering if you can. Alternatively, if you are self-isolating or if you do not wish to take the risk of visiting us, we can make arrangements over the phone, via e-mail or video link.

What can I do with the ashes at the moment?

We can collect the ashes on your behalf and deliver them to you or look after them until you have decided what to do. Unless you have very specific religious reasons to inter or scatter the ashes now, we would recommend that you wait until you can safely get together with your family and friends to perform this last ceremony.

How can we say goodbye to someone we love when we can't come to the funeral?

We appreciate that this is a really upsetting consequence of the current restrictions. To help you, we have put together some ideas for you to consider.