Online Funeral Plans for you!

We are thrilled to announce that you can now purchase your funeral plan through our website!

If finding out about a funeral plan is on your ‘To-Do’ list but you dont have the time to make a long phone call, or if taking time off to attend an appointment is hard, then our new online portal could be what your looking for!

We have upgraded our website so you can research and purchase a funeral plan online in the comfort of your own home in a few clicks.

All the information needed to set up a Cremation Funeral Plan is on our website. Follow this link: to get started.

Please be advised If you are looking to purchase a Burial Funeral Plan then please do call us to make an appointment. Burial plans require specific information and therefore cannot be purchased online.

We are bringing back our Aftercare Coffee Mornings!

Bungard Aftercare logo

We are bringing back our Aftercare Coffee Mornings!

We hope that these events will help you meet others who have also become recently bereaved, and to provide a little support to each other by offering company, chats and hopefully a little fun and laughter over some tea and cake.

Our popular coffee mornings had to cease due to lockdown, but now we are ready to bring them back for our families and hope you can join us on the dates below.

We will initially hold the coffee mornings here at our office in Sackville Road, then as our group grows again, we will seek a larger alternative setting locally, so for now we will announce the first 2 dates as:

Wednesday 6th March at 11am


Wednesday 12th June at 11am

Richard, Ben & Zoe will be hosting as usual, if you would like to come along, please do call us on

01273 820018 to let us know, or you can drop us an email at

We look forward to seeing you at our first session of 2024!


Our support programme provides:

 The choice of instant bereavement support provided to you by our governing body SAIF in the

form of ‘Saif Care’.

Saif Care is available to you in 3 ways, you can use the instant online chat feature, you can correspond by email, or you can simply chat over the telephone with specially trained bereavement counsellors who will listen and offer you ongoing guidance and support with your grief journey.


You may choose to have four hours of free one-to-one counselling from our local bereavement counsellor Kristina Burvill-Ridler.


You may choose to have four hours of free practical support from ‘Home & Company’ who can provide help with whatever you may need. From just keeping you company with a companion, or helping with the shopping, keeping on top of your cleaning, taking you to appointments, or helping out with the gardening. Nearly all aspects of help are covered by Home & Company.


You may choose to have one hour of free probate support from one of our lovely local solicitors whom we work with regularly.

Please call Richard, Ben or Zoe on 01273 820018 or email

if you feel one of the options above could be of use to you.

Ask The Expert!

Richard Whittle photoThis week Richard Whittle, the owner of Bungard Funeral Directors, answers my Ask The Expert questions.
  • How did you get into your current profession?

In March I will be celebrating my fourteenth year at the family firm. I cannot believe how fast it has gone and how much we have achieved personally and as a business.  I am the great, great grandson of the founder Oliver Bungard and even though I never intended to join the family firm or indeed become a funeral director, it does feel inevitable that I am here now.   My degree from Lancaster University was in Operations Management and my career ended up with me being Operations Manager for a Consultancy that encouraged Best Practice and Customer Service Skills in the Hospitality and Tourism Industry. My education and career choices all helped me develop skills to run and develop a small business. When I was younger, I was always imagining myself in a caring role which is perfect for a Funeral Director. The closer my dad came to retiring the more I wanted to join the firm and one day I invited Dad to the pub and present him with a Business Plan to develop the business over the next five years with me joining the business. I am pleased to say that he agreed and here I am twelve years later. A story I often tell clients is that I am a Whittle and not a Bungard because my great grandfather had twin daughters and no sons. His two daughters ended up marry Whittle brothers John and Leonard. Leonard Whittle joined the family firm and became a company director, and my grandmother took his place during the war. My own father James has just celebrated 54 years with the company, now retired but still Company Director.

  • Do you envisage ever changing your role?

Yes and no. We are a five-generation family business and I believe it is important that I am seen by the families we look after and that they feel looked after. However, Ben has been with us now over 9 years and is our principal funeral director, and Zoe is soon to be celebrating her seventh year. As we work together and grow together, I feel that both of them and their families are now part of the Bungard umbrella with us all meeting up for a Bungard BBQ each year. I do however see the business developing or diversifying and my role may also develop to accommodate the new business needs but I do not think I would ever be able to step away from the core role of looking after the families we serve.

  • Are there any myths can you dispel about your profession?

There are lots of myths about funerals but the industry is changing as the industry becomes more open and transparent and people’s attitudes on death and dying evolve. Some examples are:

  • bodies have to be transported in hearses.
  • bodies have to be embalmed if viewing is requested.
  • you have to employ a funeral director.
  • the crematoria reuse the coffins.
  • it is not the person’s individual ashes that you get back.
  • you can’t keep a body at home.

All of these are false. And we would encourage people to come and meet us and talk about any worries or myths that trouble them. In fact we might organise some open days to encourage people to do just that!

  • What do you think you’d be doing instead if you weren’t doing this?

I think I would have re-skilled perhaps and added Project Management to my list of skills.  I was thinking of doing PRINCE 2 at one point and I would probably not enjoy my work as much as I do now. Moving to Bungards was a big change for me and my wife Amie. We lived in West Molesey at the time and my wife is from Yorkshire, so it meant us moving further south away from her friends and family. In the same year I changed job, got married and sold our flat to move to Sussex. The house-move ended up being a nightmare so at the age of 31 and recently married I found myself living with Mum and Dad in my childhood bedroom!

  • What do your friends and family think about what you do?

I think a lot of them were surprised when I first started but everyone has been encouraging and supportive. They know that I enjoy both roles. The caring role as a funeral director but also the business side of it. I am very lucky to have such a dual purpose. From time to time I am quizzed but I am careful to be delicate but it’s also important to be honest to promote the transparency needed of a historically taboo subject.

  • Do you want to be buried or cremated? What kind of funeral do you want for yourself?

For years I told my wife I want to be cremated. Dispose of my ashes simply and do not mourn me but remember me fondly. I never previously wanted a burial as I was worried that having a place to visit would make her sadder. But in recent years after a very touching funeral I arranged I like the idea of a burial more and more. The family at this service all stood around their loved one’s grave sharing jokes and stories. They stood there a long time talking about their loved one and nibbled on snacks and drinks. I loved the informality of it and how relaxed and easy going it was. The same situation could be achieved at a crematorium too but being in the open air made a big difference.  I am also known for having little or no interest in music. I think to make people roll their eyes and hopefully laugh I would want cheesy music like the Spice Girls to be played.

  • Tell me what your perfect day looks like!

With two little monsters aged 7 and 5 and a lovely wife the perfect day is spent with them. However when I have some spare time I enjoy using our home gym, reading, seeing friends and extended family. As the boys get older my wife and I have both said we need to renew old hobbies such as amateur drama, going to shows and musicals and exploring brand new hobbies such as hiking and camping. Running a business and starting a family can take you away from doing things you previously enjoyed.

This week we are celebrating TEN YEARS of Bungard Aftercare!

Aftercare Ten year anniversary
As far as we are aware, we were the first Independent Funeral Directors in Sussex (and possibly nationwide!) to introduce a personalised Aftercare package for all of our families, it just seemed like the right thing to do!
We will continue to support our bereaved families with post funeral assistance for as long as it is needed, we are very proud of Bungard Aftercare and of the hundreds of families that it has benefited so far.
We are able to offer our families free specialised bereavement counselling, either on a 1-1 basis, on the phone, via online chat or email. There is also practical help available for you, your home or garden provided by our trusted local partner and we can also offer you specialised probate advice from one of our trusted local solicitors.
If you have any questions please do comment and one of us will get straight back to you.
We wish you all a very happy and healthy 2024 and looking forward to providing you with another 10 years of Bungard Aftercare!
Richard, Ben & Zoe 💙

Highgate Cemetery: Whose there?

The Circle of Lebanon

Egyptian Avenue


Little bit of history

Highgate Cemetery is perhaps the most famous of London’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ burial grounds. Established in the 18th century, the 7 Victorian Gothic Garden Cemeteries were all built within 5.5 miles (as the crow flies) from St Pauls Cathedral between 1832 and 1841. All 7 cemeteries were needed in order to accommodate the rapidly growing population of London. Following its Victorian heyday, Highgate fell into ruin during the early 20th Century, but It’s made a spectacular comeback since The Friends of Highgate Cemetery took over the upkeep in 1975.

 If you visit you may well recognise parts of the cemetery from films you have seen, in the 70’s horror films such as ‘Taste the Blood of Dracula’, ‘From Beyond the Grave’ and ‘Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell’ were all filmed in the famous grounds.  More recently films like ‘Fantastic Beasts’, ‘Hampstead’, ‘Dorian Gray’ and ‘Cambridge Spies’ all took to Highgate for their scenes, as did the producers of ‘Waking the Dead’ and ‘Luther’.


Who is buried in Highgate Cemetery?

KARL MARX: The 18th century revolutionary philosopher who was better known as ‘The Father of Communism’. Buried in 1883 his tomb has attracted thousands of visitors, not all of whom agreed with his theories, one person even attempted to blow it up!. The sabotage failed miserably and ironically left the statue leaning ever so slightly… somewhat the left.

MALCOM MACLAREN: Manager of the Sex Pistols. Malcom is buried under a black granite headstone incorporating a ‘death mask’ sculpted by the son of the mastermind behind the Great Train Robbery, Bruce Reynolds. Bruce and his wife Angela’s ashes were buried together 50 years to the day of the Great Train Robbery after spending years on the run. The short interment service was attended by one of the great train robbers himself, Ronnie Biggs, who was celebrating his 84th birthday the same day.

GEORGE MICHAEL: One of the most famous recent interments. George was laid to rest next to his mother in 2017 following his death on Christmas day 2016. George resides under a clean white stone slab bearing his real name of ‘Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou’. A small sign nearby politely asks visitors not to take photographs. Both George’s and his mothers grave have beautiful potted plants filled with white flowers surrounding them.

ALEXANDER LITVINENKO: The former Russian Spy who defected to the west and was murdered in London in 2006 aged 44 by KGB operatives.  Andrey Lugovoy and Dmitry Kovtun laced his green tea at a hotel in London with the chemical Polonium-210. Such are the radioactive effects of Polonium-210 that Alexander could not be cremated and had to be buried in a lead lined coffin 12 feet deep. His body cannot be moved for 28 years.

GEORGE ELIOT: ‘George’ was considered the greatest author of the Victorian period. ‘George’ was in fact ‘Mary Ann Evans’, a female author who was was buried under her real name. Mary was also buried next to her married lover which caused a bit of fuss at the time!

MICHAEL FARADAY: ‘The Father of Electricity’ also resides in Highgate.

HENRY MOORE: Renowned painter and sculptor.

ROWLAND HILL: The man who invented the Postal Service.

CLAUDIA JONES: Founder of the Notting Hill Carnival.

THOMAS SAYERS: Victorian bare knuckle prize fighter, it is said that 10,000 people attended his funeral in 1865!

DOUGLAS ADAMS: Science fiction author.

BOB HOSKINS: British actor.

IAN HOLME: Lord of the Rings actor.

Why visit Highgate?

Because why not? If you like a bit of history, or looking for famous graves, being somewhere beautiful and peaceful or just out of plain old morbid curiosity Highgate is the place for you!. With 2 distinct areas to visit, the East Cemetery and the West Cemetery I would allow a several hours to wander about. The East Cemetery is free to walk around after paying a small entrance fee but the West Cemetery has guided tours so you can get the most out of the visit.  Please visit to book a tour and get further information.

Blog Spot: Sussex Willow Coffins

This week Jake the owner of Sussex Willow Coffins answers my ‘Ask The Expert’ questions:

How did you get into your current profession?

I was fortunate enough to apprentice to a greenwood craftsman in Kent, we would manage woodland by cutting hazel and willow material in the winters then make products and run courses in the summer. I got the bug with weaving baskets and growing willow on the estate to make them with. When I had finished as an apprentice, I went about setting up Sussex Willow Coffins to further the things I had most enjoyed. And the rest is history as they say!
Do you envisage ever changing your role? 

I don’t think so, I never really set out to build a big company and become a manager of people, for me I need to stay connected to my craft, hands on in the workshop and in the willow beds.

Are there any myths can you dispel about your profession? 

I like the myth that coffins aren’t burnt in the crematorium but are resold to make more profit by the funeral industry. The big coffin conspiracy! Nope this never happens you are posted into the cremator in whichever coffin you have chosen. A lot of people also ask me whether it feels weird putting so much time and effort into crafting something that will be burnt or buried in a number of days. I’ve never felt like that really, I have made them for the purpose of being admired on someone’s big day. I think holding a body, bringing some nature and softness to a sad occasion and often a good talking point for the guests is more than enough. They also often have more therapeutic value, we have had numerous families over the years come and visit the workshop, do some weaving or decorate a loved one’s coffin. I think anything that helps people take ownership of the funeral process and brings opportunity to talk about a loved one is a good thing.

What do you think you’d be doing instead if you weren’t doing this?

If I ever stop making coffins, I would love to set up a natural burial site, the idea of natural burial was the basis for our coffin design. No glue no nails just pure woven woody goodness. I guess it appeals to my background of land management, a win win for nature and grieving families.

What do your friends and family think about what you do? 

Its either a conversation starter or conversation killer. Some shy away from this subject in our society, right? Other admire the depth of the work and the difference it can make to people’s lives. I would say in summary that most people find it fascinating, other just think it’s weird!

Do you want to be buried or cremated?

Natural burial for sure.

What kind of funeral do you want for yourself?

A peaceful one with birds singing and a ray or two of sunshine. Some singing or a harpist perhaps, I think funerals remind us that we are mere mortals and help us ground ourselves, put our lives into perspective. An environment that helps us to do that has got to be good for the healing process.

Tell me what your perfect day looks like!

I love visiting the willow beds in the summer you see them teaming with life, ladybirds, caterpillars and birds alike all enjoying the environment we have created. I also love a bit of camping with my children, so I would say camping out in the willows with good company and a hearty campfire.

You can learn more about these beautiful coffins by going to  and you even arrange to visit the workshop in Clayton, West Sussex, by emailing or calling 01273 671430 to make an appointment. Here you can see for yourself how the coffins are made and ask any questions you may have.

Jake has been recommended by the Good Funeral Guide yearly since 2017 and is FFMA approved. Sussex Willow Coffins use Willow from the sustainable beds that they started planting back in 2016, they are in the process of expanding with another 40,000 willow trees being planted solely for production of willow for coffin making!
At Bungards we love Jake’s creations! each time one is delivered we stand and look at it a while, taking in its craftmanship and beauty, if you are looking for a woven coffin over a traditional coffin, then we really do recommend you take a look at Jake’s creations.

Good Funeral Guide

Good Funeral Guide recommendation

The Swan Song Project

I wanted to share a personal thing with you today and tell you about ‘The Swan Song Project’.

Swan Song are based in Leeds but work with people all over the country who are experiencing a wide range of circumstances surrounding end of life and bereavement. From the early stages of a terminal diagnosis to people’s final days, immediately following a bereavement to several years after, anyone who finds themselves in this situation are welcomed to join forces and make a ‘Swan Song’.

I came across The Swan Song Project via my Mum who has a terminal cancer diagnosis, having been a singer herself in the 60’s gigging around London in a folk band, and then in later life taking challenging roles in amateur dramatic performances she toyed with the idea of performing once more. But could she do it physically? Having lost a large part of her lung to surgery did she even have enough breath to sing again? She plucked up the courage and made the call.

When she did, she found the amazing songwriter and charity founder Ben Buddy Slack. Ben deeply regretted not writing a song for his Grandma before she passed away in hospice care and so in 2017, The Swan Song Project was formed and through this Mum was able to record 2 songs, one for her husband and one for me and my 24-year-old daughter who we lost in 2020.

She found her confidence and learnt how to sing again with her now reduced lung capacity, she spent time writing her songs and recorded them online over several weeks. She did a little bit at a time, whilst receiving great support from her songwriter who guided her through every step. She said it was a very cathartic experience. The best thing is that you don’t even have to be able to sing that well! (Which let’s face it, for most of us this is handy) Swan Song have producers and writers across the globe working with them – Mums was in LA! – and the final version is produced to the highest standards meaning that your family and loved ones will have something from you that is deeply personal and professionally made to treasure for years to come, just like I do.

Participants have left feedback saying how proud they are of their songs, how happy they are to have a permanent recorded message to their loved ones, how it has helped them come to terms with their situation, and how it has helped them to articulate and communicate their feelings in a way they may not have otherwise done. And most importantly how much fun they had doing it!

Theres so much more I could tell you about The Swan Song Project but to find out how to get involved please visit their website or socials where you can learn more. Swan Song is available to participants up and down the country so if you, a loved one, or a friend are in this situation please do tell them about this special opportunity to record their very own ‘Swan Song’.


“Roll up the first woods” of the 2023 season at the Drive Bowling Club.

James was delighted to be invited to the The Drive Bowls Club on Saturday 29th April as we are one of their Club Sponsors since 2019. He had a  lovely lunch and shown around the club and everyone was so friendly. James was delighted to  “roll up the first woods” of the new season.  Derek Budde and David
 Sanders were very impressed with his beginners luck!
Thanks you so much to James for respesenting the company and doing such a good job.
Here are some of the photos from the day.

James Whittle from Bungard & Sons rolls out the First Wood of the season

James Whittle from Bungard & Sons rolls out the First Wood of the season

So what exactly are ‘Cremation Diamonds’?

Whilst researching the possibilities of what I could do with my own daughter’s ashes I came across the concept of turning ashes into diamonds. I was immediately intrigued and wanted to know how this worked, so I thought I would share a little research that I did with you.

We all know that diamonds are made from carbon, right? Well, it turns out that the human body is approximately 18% carbon, and after cremation between 0.5% and 4% of that carbon is still present in the ashes, and if you can isolate that carbon, then you have the perfect base for the creation of a diamond! Using the Diamond Industries Four Cs; ‘Colour, Cut, Clarity and Carats’ you can choose how you want your finished cremation diamond to look.

So how does all this work then I hear you ask?

Step 1: Carbon Purification and Isolation. This is a lengthy process where the ashes are purified using a high heat in a non-oxygen environment with the addition of an inert gas to break down the carbonates. The carbonates are then broken down again to pure carbon in the form of graphite, and then the graphite is ground into a fine powder. This graphite powder is then refined and filtered during another lengthy process until it has reached 99.9% carbon. Finally, heat and pressure are applied causing the formation of a graphite structure. This process is called ‘graphitization’ and this is your base for diamond growth.

 Step 2: Diamond Growth. The personal carbon extracted from the ashes along a small amount of generic carbon is added to a ‘diamond growth cell’ containing a diamond seed which provides the foundation for the correct molecular structure to grow. This cell with the seed inside is then placed inside a rather clever ‘HPHT machine’ that replicates the exact conditions that exist deep beneath the earth’s surface, where diamonds grow naturally in the earth’s mantle. Scientists control the HPHT machine and expose the growth cell to temperatures around 2500 Fahrenheit and exert pressure on the cell of approximately 850,000 pounds per square inch, and gradually, a diamond begins to grow, starting off as crystallisation on the seed, and eventually turning into a raw diamond. As an idea on timescales, to turn the black carbon seed to completely opaque diamond takes around 3 months but the whole end-to-end process takes between 6 to 10 months.

The larger the diamond, the longer the growing time needed, and each diamond is totally unique. Each diamond is authenticated as being totally genuine and usually range from 0.03 carats up to 2.00 carats depending on the choices you made using the Four Cs mentioned above. These choices determine the overall cost of your diamond, factors such as the carat size, the cut, the colour, and the clarity are all taken into consideration. Diamonds can cost between £650 and £17,000 depending on your choices.

It’s also worth noting that hair can also be used to create diamonds! the keratin found in human hair is around 50% carbon so you would need around 10g of hair to produce a diamond.

Isn’t it amazing how science can turn what is essentially a pile of dust into something so beautiful? Such a personal and meaningful treasure of your loved one, I really enjoyed researching this for you and hopefully it fascinated you as much as it did me, and if you were wondering, when I get a spare 10K I’m getting that cremation diamond made!

Announcing Bungards Charity of the Year!

Bungards are pleased to announce we will be supporting FLOURISH MENTORS as our local charity for 2023/2024!

Flourish Mentors started off as a conversation between three friends who saw the very real difficulties and obstacles faced by so many young women around them, and the difficulties they faced just navigating their lives on a day to day basis.

Deborah, Frederique and Cathy brought their skills together to create a network of women with their own life experiences who provide 1-1 fortnightly sessions. Both the mentor and mentee are carefully matched together. Sessions run for a minimum of 6 months and focus on the emotional and practical needs of the mentee. Their mission is to mentor and support every young woman (16 to 25 years), no matter what their background and needs are, to Flourish!

​F.M also run one-off workshops that are open to the Mentees and Mentors alike. These workshops focus on practical skills such as interview techniques, CV building, stress-coping techniques, drama based confidence classes, finance and budgeting, UCAS applications, personal statements, anxiety and practical strategies on how to cope with exam and study stress.

If you are a young woman (or non binary) aged between 16 & 25 and you need some help working out certain aspects of your life please do get in touch! FM can provide mentors to help you with your Emotional, Physical, Spiritual, Social, Occupational, Environmental or Intellectual needs.                          You can contact them via their socials:




Phone:  07487 405205.

Equally, if you have a wealth of life experience and would like to be a mentor please do make contact with them at or drop them a call on 07487 405205 to see how you could help a young woman in our community to flourish.

We look forward to supporting this wonderful new charity for the forthcoming year and watching THEM Flourish!