Christmas can be a challenging time for anyone who has been bereaved, whether their loss is recent or occurred many years ago.
This year, grieving families are being invited by Saints Funeral Services to an open day at Barnoon Chapel, on December 20, where they will be able to place a note or a bauble in memory of someone much missed on the chapel Christmas tree. People visiting the chapel on that day are welcome to spend some time in peace and quiet, and there will also be someone to talk to if they wish.
Barnoon Chapel is a well-known landmark occupying a prominent position overlooking Porthmeor Beach, but it was disused and in need of substantial renovation when funeral director Darren Saint began negotiations to take over the use of the building.
Built in 1857 as a chapel of rest, it was later also used as a mortuary and for religious services. The artist Alfred Wallis, and several victims of the Titanic, are among those buried in the cemetery in which the chapel stands.
Darren was fascinated by the history of the building and keen to restore it to its original use, retaining as many features as possible. First, the chapel had to be stripped down, as woodworm and wild weather had taken its toll on the structure over many years.
Saints’ funeral manager, Paul Thomas, says: “It was a sad building when we first saw it, and we had to do a huge amount of renovation — everything from the roof down. The roof itself was leaking, and needed new beams, and floorboards and floor joists also had to be replaced. We re-plastered the walls, re-wired, re-plumbed and repaired.”
Original features include the slate mortuary slab, the bier with its wrought iron wheels, and the pulpit. Pews have been sourced which are in-keeping with the seats which were once in the chapel, and have been painted bright white — part of a light, fresh colour scheme which aims to create an ambience of comfort and peace.
Families can also use a cream Volkswagen hearse instead of a traditional black vehicle, if they wish. As Paul says: “People like to do funerals differently now. It’s all very personal, and we can do whatever they want — there are no constraints.”
With work complete, Saints Funeral Services was able to relocate to Barnoon Chapel from its previous location in Park Avenue earlier this year. Darren is delighted by the enthusiastic response of the community to the project.
“Everyone thinks it’s a brilliant idea to get this building back on the map, particularly as we’ve put it back to its original use. It is our passion to make things as easy as we can for people. This is a tranquil and peaceful place, where they can spend as much time as they wish with their loved one at a difficult time.”
• To find out more about Saints Funerals open day on December 20, phone 01736 447070 or 07527 795674.