Including a headstone on a loved one’s grave is a common and fitting way to pay tribute to their life and memory. Typically, these are engraved with your loved one’s name, date of birth and date of death, but many people opt to create bespoke headstones to commemorate the memory of their loved ones in their own way. 

Whether you wish to keep the design simple, or engrave your loved one’s funeral headstone with a meaningful quote or lyric, we have the expertise to help. Working  with our Headstone Consultant Graham Walker, we’ll turn your ideas into a reality, and create the perfect headstone for your loved one.

About our Stonemason Expert

Graham has spent nearly 40 years engaged in the stonemasonry industry.  Graham offers friendly, no-obligation appointments at our funeral homes to discuss headstone designs, and can also come to your home if you are close by. 

As a teenager, Graham trained as a stonemason and carver. Having worked his way up to manager of a national monumental masonry company, he went on to specialise in every aspect of headstone production and installation. Working with Harold Wood Funeral Services, Graham now provides expert advice for both burial and cremation stonemasonry, designed to be placed in a cemetery, churchyard or garden.

Choosing the Right Type of Headstone

Whether you’ve previously organised a funeral or not, choosing a type of headstone can seem like a daunting task, especially since cemeteries will have varying rules and regulations regarding what you can and cannot purchase. 

Our expert stonemason Graham, as well as our team, can advise you at any point during your funeral headstone purchase. However, here are some of the things you may need to consider when deciding what type of headstone you may wish to purchase. 

How much does a funeral headstone cost?

Headstones can vary significantly in price, depending on the material, the size and the type of design you wish to create. Graham will be able to advise you on what is the best choice for your budget.

What material should I choose for my funeral headstone?

Other than price, one of your main considerations when deciding on a material might be how easy it is to maintain, and how well it will hold up over time. This is especially important if you believe other family members may be taking over ownership of the grave in the near future. 

Depending on what kind of finish you wish to have, there are a variety of memorial materials for you to choose from: 

Limestone

This is a durable and popular choice, with a lightly-coloured finish.

Marble

This material has a very aesthetically pleasing appearance as well as being very strong.

Granite

This material is extremely durable, and is likely to stand the test of time far more than a marble headstone. 

Bronze

Usually chosen for grave markers until a headstone is prepared, bronze is extremely easy to maintain over time. This material will darken as time goes on. 

What finish would I like for my funeral headstone?

Once you have chosen your material, your next step will be deciding on a finish for your funeral headstone: 

Polished

This finish provides a smooth, shiny glass-like appearance. However, headstones with this finish require a lot of maintenance and are not accepted by many churchyards, as they may look out of place next to more traditional headstones. 

Part polished

If you wish to emphasise an epitaph or an image on your headstone, you can opt for part of the headstone to have a glossy finish. This will usually be the face, with the rest of the headstone remaining unpolished. 

Honed

This finish is characterised by a smooth yet unreflective surface, meaning that it is usually permitted in churchyards. This finish is created by removing the polish with dust, and is usually utilised for designs that will come in different colours. 

Pitched

Pitched finishes are the most rustic of them all, and are created using a bolster and hammer. These finishes fit in perfectly with older churchyards thanks to their textured surface and uneven edges.

What shape would I like my funeral headstone to be?

Headstones can come in all shapes and sizes, and our stonemasonry consultant will be able to advise you on the various options available to you. Some common headstone shapes include:

  • Peon top
  • Offset peon top
  • Oval or arch
  • Oval with shoulders
  • Square top with rounded shoulders
  • Round top with rounded shoulders

If you have a specific shape or style in mind, our stonemasonry consultant will be able to discuss a personalised quote with you to create your bespoke headstone. 

Personalising my funeral headstone

Though the structural aspects of a headstone are extremely important, it is the personalisation of its face that will connect with people for years to come. 

There are many ways in which you can make your funeral headstone specific to your loved one: 

Images

Some people choose to include an image alongside a loved one’s name, date of birth and date of death. Choosing an image that best represents your loved one can be a daunting task, but making sure the image feels authentic will ensure that their memory is preserved in a way that shows who they truly were.

Colour

These days, funeral headstones can come in virtually any colour. Most graveyards will not have strict colour restrictions for headstones, but it is worth checking for any local regulations before selecting an unusual colour. 

Inscriptions

Just like images, inscriptions can be extremely personal. They can not only represent your loved one in a poignant way, but also bring comfort to those that will visit the grave in years to come. Inscriptions can be of anything meaningful to your loved one or your family, whether it be a common phrase (i.e “rest in peace”), a song lyric, a phrase they used in life or a verse from a religious text. 

All of our new headstones come with 100 letters included at no extra charge.

We can offer suggestions for verse and wording.

Other kinds of memorials

If you wish to honour and remember a loved one outside of a cemetery, such as in your own garden, then we can advise you on the different options available. Some popular memorial options include garden birdbaths, sundials and benches. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Our stonemasonry consultant and other members of our team will be able to answer any questions you may have in person, in order to guarantee you a personal and effective service. These include:

  • What are cemetery permits?
  • How long do I have to wait after a funeral?
  • How long do I have to wait after ordering?
  • How much deposit do I have to pay?
  • Can I see a layout of the headstone inscription before ordering?
  • What words can I have on the headstone?
  • What’s the best type of lettering?
  • Can I mix and match different headstone designs?
  • What is the difference between a lawn or a traditional grave?
  • Can I have a headstone for ashes?
  • What guarantees do I have for any headstone work?
  • Can I email a photograph of an existing headstone to you for an estimate?
  • Can I have an additional inscription on my existing headstone?

Our expert Stonemasonry Consultant Graham Walker is based full-time in our Hainault & Chigwell Funeral Home [link]. Please call on Graham Walker on 020 8501 1735 Monday-Saturday 10am-4pm, or email memorials@hwfunerals.co.uk.