You will find memorial benches in almost every cemetery and park in the UK. They are a very popular way to commemorate the life of a loved one. This article will look at the most frequency asked questions regarding memorial benches; where can they be placed? What are they usually made from? How much do they cost?
The aim of this piece is to answer as many questions as you may have regarding memorial benches in order to enable you to make your choice about what kind of bench you would like to memorialise the passing of a loved one.
What is a memorial bench?
A memorial bench is a bench that is placed in a spot in memory of a passed loved one. They can also be placed in memory of an event or a group of people. Memorial benches can seat 2,3, or 4 people and usually have an engraving with details of who the bench is in memory for. This engraving can be in the wood itself, but it is more often on a metal plaque on the bench.
Memorial benches are often placed in a spot which was well loved by the person who has passed away. For example, families often choose to place a memorial bench in a park or along a walk which the person enjoyed in life. Memorial benches are often also placed around memorials, such as war memorials, to pay respect or to commemorate individuals also affected.
Memorial benches are more commonly made of wood, although there are exceptions. Memorial benches can be adorned with a design or left plain with a simple plaque to mark a person’s memory. The design of the back of a bench can be carved or feature a design which is in keeping with the reason for the bench.
Memorial benches are popular choices to commemorate a person’s life as they offer a place to sit peacefully and remember the life and achievements of the loved one who is no longer here.
Where can you put a memorial bench?
You can place a memorial bench in a public place or in your private garden. Some people choose to keep their memorial benches in their garden as a place for quiet and private reflection, especially if the person they are remembering particularly enjoyed spending time in the garden or this garden hold special memories.
Many people choose to place a memorial bench in a public place such as in a cemetery or place of rest, or a park or other public area. If a loved one has passed away who enjoyed the outdoors, a particular view in a park or a special spot by the sea, for example, this might be the ideal location for a bench to sit on and remember that person.
If you are hoping to place a memorial bench in a public place such as a park or along a walkway, then you will need to seek permission from the local council. You will need to obtain permission before you can fix a bench in a public place and the local authority council are the best people to contact to get the ball rolling with this. There is not usually a cost in obtaining permission for a bench to be placed in a public place, but each local authority is different and so some councils may charge an admin fee for submitting the request and some may not. It is a good idea to enquire with the council responsible for the are in which you hope to place a memorial bench before you go any further in arranging on to be commissioned. While most councils will let you place a memorial bench in certain areas, they may have their own rules about where they can and cannot go.
If you are hoping to have a memorial bench placed in a cemetery or churchyard, then you must speak with the grounds manager to find out whether this would be possible and to gain permission. You can get the grounds manager's contact details usually from the church itself, but you may also find them on the internet if you search the name of the church and cemetery you are looking for. The same applies if you would like to place a memorial bench in a garden of rest or on the grounds of a crematorium.
Many of these places will be understanding and as accommodating as possible to your wishes but it is always advisable to check with the grounds staff and obtain permission before you try and install a memorial bench as you do not want the upset of having to remove the bench at a later date for any reason.
What should you write on a memorial bench?
The inscription on a memorial bench can usually be anything you would like it to be. The most common plaques feature the person's name, date of birth and often the date of passing, and a short wording describing who the person was and what they meant to the people they left behind. Family references are a nice touch so that passersby know that this person had an entire family who loved them dearly.
As the space available on a plaque for a memorial bench is limited, there isn’t any need for long verse or prose, but many people do like to make them as personal as possible. Many families chose to include favourite lines from poems, quotes that the departed were renowned for saying or simply expressing the love felt for the lost individual. Essentially, you can write almost anything on a memorial bench, but it is always best if it comes from the heart as you will be visiting this bench for years to come.
See below an infographic which shows some other ideas as to what you can write on your memorial bench.
How much do memorial benches cost?
As memorial benches can be made in a range of sizes and with different details and designs, there is a range of prices to reflect this. It goes without saying that larger and more detailed benches will usually cost more than smaller 2-3-seater memorial benches will do. However, you can estimate that prices for memorial benches are likely to start around the £100 mark and can go anywhere up to £500, depending on the size and the style.
Here is a list of some of the prices of our memorial benches. You can see there are different styles and sizes to choose from, along with the prices of those options. This table does not represent our entire selection of memorial benches but has been put together to highlight what you can expect a memorial bench to cost.
We can offer selected styles of bench at a larger 5-seater option and a smaller 2-seater option too and if you have any special requirements, we will do our utmost to include these in your order. Our Sandhurst model features a decorative Union Jack in the back of the bench while the other designs vary in style and include traditional slatted backs and contemporary criss-cross backs.
Do I need to treat a memorial bench?
Whether or not you need to treat your memorial bench in order to protect it from the elements depends greatly on what type of wood your bench is made out of. Memorial benches made from pine or oak usually have the wood treated before they are assembled with a sealer and wood preserver. This should protect the wood from weathering, rotting and splitting. Oak benches will need treating after about 6 months of being in place, however, depending on the severity of the weather in the area, or once you notice the colour changing or grain rising. This should increase the life of your bench and prevent the wood from deteriorating and keep the natural appearance of the wood at its finest.
Pine memorial benches can be treated with a standard wood treatment such as Ronseal, which will protect the wood from the elements as well as maintain the fresh appearance of the wood. Pine benches should be treated annually but as with any wood product, you can expect to notice warping, spitting or cracks appearing over time.
Teak is considered the best quality wood to make benches from due to its durability and ability to withstand weathering in even the most brutal of conditions. Teak does not necessarily need to be treated at all. This is because teak produces its own natural oils which rise to the surface of the wood, protecting it from weathering and making it virtually impervious to water. This means that the wood will not rot, split or crack despite being left outside in the elements all year round.
It is recommended that you simply clean off your bench with warm, soapy water and a stiff brush twice a year. You can use a specific teak cleaner if you so choose to, but it is not a necessity. Over the years the colour of your teak bench will eventually fade from the golden brown it will be to begin with, to a silvery grey patina. This ageing and weathering process is natural and will not affect the structure of the bench at all. Teak benches can be lightly sanded to bring back a like-new finish and also smoothen any rough edges caused by the grain rising slightly.
If you want your teak memorial bench to retain its golden colour, then you can treat it with teak protector once you start to notice the colour change. As teak protector is water based rather than oil based, it works to protect the wood and help it to keep its natural shade. The frequency of which you will have to continue to treat your teak bench will depend on the standard of the wood used as well as the weather conditions it is being exposed to. Using teak protector, however, will not increase the structural longevity of your memorial bench, it is for improving and extending the aesthetic of the wood only. Consider testing out the teak protector on a part of the wood which is not noticeable, such as the inside of one of the legs, so that you can gauge what the finished look will be.
Never use varnish or oil-based products on a teak bench as they will stain, peel and chip. The use of oil-based products also increases the chance of mould and mildew growing on your bench. They are also notoriously difficult to remove without heavy sanding so simply don’t apply them in the first place.
Memorial benches made from oak, pine, roble or mahogany will all fade over time, but their natural appearance can be enhanced with treatment if you so choose. All wood will eventually fade when positioned outside to a silver-grey colour. Regular treatment can slow this weathering process down and also protect the integrity of the wood. Memorial benches of any material should be cleaned twice a year with warm soapy water and a stiff brush. Removing mildew, moss, bird droppings and other stains not only makes your memorial bench more attractive, it also helps to protect the wood. If you are applying any treatment afterwards, ensure that your bench is fully dry before applying the sealant, varnish or other product.
What type of wood do Garden Benches use for their memorial benches?
At Garden Benches, all of our memorial benches are made using teak as it is considered the gold standard when it comes to outside wooden furniture. We understand that when you place a memorial bench, you are doing so because you want a lasting tribute to your loved one and the last thing you need is the upset of watching that memorial decay and crumble before your eyes.
One of the biggest threats to outdoor wooden furniture is water. Once water gets into the wood it can rot it from the inside out. Water can also freeze in the wood in cold temperatures, causing the wood to expand and split. The natural oils in teak migrate to the surface of the wood which creates a waterproof barrier against the elements. As the water cannot get in, teak does not split, crack or rot making it the perfect material for an eternal monument to a departed loved one.
The fact that teak is naturally impermeable to water has another added benefit; you do not need to worry about regular maintenance and treatment of the wood in order to protect it. Other materials such as pine and oak, will need regular treatments in order to keep the structure of the memorial bench strong and solid. Some types of wood may crack so badly that they need glueing back together. Teak, however, will only need a scrub with warm soapy water once or twice a year to get rid of debris such as mud, bird droppings and stains.
While teak is strong and durable, the colour of it will change with age. Although the wood protects itself from water, it will weather over time. The colour of the wood will change from golden brown to silvery-grey, but this change will happen over years and even though the colour may change; the structure of the bench will still be as sound as always. If you don’t want your bench to age to grey, then you can treat it with a teak protector which will extend the time that your teak stays golden brown.
What is the lifespan of a teak memorial bench?
Teak has one of the longest lifespans of any natural wood product, so it is not surprising that it is considered to the gold standard when it comes to outdoor furniture. While pine memorial benches can only be expected to last around 10 years, even with regular treatment, in comparison, this is nothing compared to a teak bench. Teak memorial benches are expected to last anywhere up to and including 25 years.
All wood ages differently and this will impact of the appearance of your memorial bench and may also trigger feelings of guilt that many grieving relatives may have if they see their memorial bench looking heavily weathered and forgotten about. While the colour of teak may naturally fade to grey, this process is completely natural. The high oil content of the wood makes teak highly durable against even the most severe weather conditions. The important thing is that even though the colour may change, the bench itself is not strained or damaged in any way. The time it will take for your teak bench to turn from golden brown to silver will take many years and it will be a subtle process. Another point to remember is that the feel and structure of teak will stay strong and smooth, even though the colour may change. You shouldn’t experience any cracks or raised grain which may give your memorial bench a neglected look and feel.
Mahogany benches only offer the consumer a shelf-life of up to 12 years. While this may seem like a long time, a memorial bench is something you will want to visit regularly and for many years to come. The last thing you want is to visit a bench which is split, rotting or not safe to sit on.
Oak benches offer long lifespans similar to that of a teak bench. However, to enjoy a lifespan of 20 plus years, an oak memorial bench must be treated every 6 months; unlike the teak bench which does not need any treatment at all.
Are Garden Benches memorial benches delivered assembled?
All of the memorial benches from Garden Benches are crafted and assembled by our skilled team so that we can provide you with a final product which is safe, secure and that will last for years to come. We do not want to leave you with the complicated task of putting a bench together when you are already dealing with the difficulties the loss of a loved one can bring.
While they bench will be delivered to you already assembled, you will need to purchase an anchoring kit which will include all you need to tether your memorial bench to the ground. There are two types of anchoring kits available; one for a soft ground and one for hard ground. You can choose to anchor your new memorial bench to the ground yourself but a member of our team from Garden Benches will be more than happy to accomplish this task for you.
How long will delivery take?
Many of the memorial benches available from Garden Benches are available with next day delivery if the order is placed before 2 pm. If we have the bench you require in stock, and you order before 2 pm, then we will do our best to have your chosen memorial bench with you within 24 hours. When you order a memorial bench from Garden Benches, you will also be given the option to choose a delivery day which is most convenient for you. If you do not necessarily require a next day delivery service, you can choose any other day over the next month to receive your bench. We understand that you cannot always be in so this to option of choosing a delivery date seems to suit most of our customers.
Obviously, if your memorial bench features a larger or more complicated design, then next day delivery may not be an option for your order. However, if you need your memorial bench on short notice or for a specific date then the team here at Garden Benches will do our best to work with your deadlines.
Memorial benches are an excellent way to pay tribute and celebrate the life of a loved one who has passed away. They offer a lasting memorial and a place to sit and reflect and remember the person you have lost as well as giving you space to share the joy of the person's life with others.
Hopefully, this guide has answered any questions you may have had about memorial benches and the process you must go through in order to place one in a special spot. If you have any more questions, however, you can always contact your local council, churchyard or ourselves here at Garden Benches. We are always on hand to answer any questions and queries as best we can to help you choose the best memorial to your loved one.