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Funeral Plans: The history! – Part 1

Funeral Directors Bude

Have you made a funeral plan? Do you know what a funeral plan is?

Although funeral plans may seem to be a relatively recent idea, in history people have been making funeral plans for thousands of years. From Ancient Egyptians to Medieval Europe, making financial plans for your own passing is a well-established practice. Over the next three blogs we will be sharing more of the history and why a funeral plan can be a great help in the modern world that we now live in.

Planning for the afterlife in Ancient Egypt and Rome

Historians suspect that as far back as 4,500 years ago, the Egyptians had systems in place to ensure their family could afford their burial. A famous Egyptologist, wrote about a soldier, that mentioned a “guild of necropolis stone-masons”.

Necropolis stone-masons would have been responsible for the construction of large-scale cemeteries and tombs. The soldier seemed to have no personal wealth and no professional connection to the stone-masons; it is believed that he was making payments to the guild in order to pay for his burial when the time came.

The Ancient Egyptians were a culture that placed a great deal of significance on funeral planning and the afterlife. Burial rites, the items buried with a person and the ceremonies performed by mourners, were believed to have a direct impact on the quality of their eternal afterlife. This probably explains why a poor soldier was planning ahead.

It wasn’t just the Pharaohs with their large pyramids that thought about what would happen after they died.

In the Roman Empire, religious groups brought people together to worship the gods. Arranging burials was seen as a duty, as an improper burial might offend the gods and no would want that to happen.

Each member of the group would regularly pay a small, affordable sum into a communal fund, which would then pay for funeral arrangements upon the death of any member.

By the second century A.D. all pretence of worship was abandoned by most, if not all, of the societies. These societies then primarily became a way of assuring a proper burial for oneself.

Medieval funeral insurance

Later in history, in Medieval Europe and beyond, a type of ‘funeral insurance’ was often provided by guilds, much like our Egyptian soldier. Guilds were “associations of men within a craft or trade for the purpose of helping each other.

They gave each other social assistance, and help when a member was sick and unable to work to support himself in his old age or to pay for his burial and funeral masses when he died”.

In much the same way as the societies of the Roman Empire and the Egyptian ‘stone-masons’ guild, members paid a small amount into a communal fund and their burial was paid for upon their death. It was a way of making sure, in advance, that their funeral was respectable and done properly, in accordance with Christian practices.

Keep an eye on our blog page to know more about funeral plans and the history.


For more information or to answer any queries on funeral services you may have, please call us on 01288 359277 (Bude) or 01566 785340 (Launceston) for a chat.