CONSTRUCTION work has started on a new burial ground near Chester.

Landowner Barnston Estate is creating Monument Meadow to replace the burial ground at St Chad’s in Farndon.

The natural burial ground will also be made available for residents of surrounding villages.

More than 900 tonnes of top soil have been dug out of the field and spread and 600 tonnes of hardcore have been added and levelled.

Work on the car park surfacing will be completed by the end of January and an oak timber framed pavilion will be constructed in February along with landscaped footpaths. The natural burial ground is due to open on April 4.

Edward Barnston said: “There has been great interest in the natural burial ground and we hope it will be a special place for people to think, reflect and to celebrate a person’s life.

“We have given careful consideration to ensure that it is respectful to the surrounding landscape. We will be planting a variety of native species of trees such as oak, beech, wild cherry, walnut and lime, new hedges and a lovely wildflower meadow which will include buttercups, cow parsley and yarrow.

“We are now looking for a funeral director who would like to join our team.”

Monument Meadow, which has views stretching across the Clywdian Range, has been designed by specialist landscape architects Land Studio in Chester.

The environment will be kept as natural as possible with a wildflower meadow and ornamental trees and has been designed to be a peaceful and beautiful place to visit. It will also provide a safe haven for birds and wildlife enabling wild flowers and trees to thrive.

The site is anchored with a Grade II* listed monument – a sandstone obelisk flanked by four stone lions - commemorating Roger Barnston, a military officer who died in 1857 of wounds sustained at the Siege of Lucknow in India.

There are more than 270 natural burial grounds in the UK, where interment occurs in a way that is beneficial to the environment, and they are increasing in popularity.

At Monument Meadow, the burial ground is intended to be a natural one with caskets made of natural materials with no formal markers. It will change with the seasons over time and support a variety of flora.

Types of plots available to reserve include natural burial plots, interment of ashes and scattering of ashes. Pre-purchasing of plots is now available.

The Barnston Estate is managed by Ed Barnston and comprises a wide range of residential and commercial properties as well as dairy farming, forestry and renewable energy.

The estate, one of Cheshire’s oldest family estates, is in the running to be named as one of the best rural businesses in the UK after being shortlisted for a Rural Business Award.