Not all wicker coffins are equal

A willow coffin is often referred to as a wicker coffin. Now this can be misleading. Just as willow can vary enormously in quality, (there is plenty of inferior quality, cheap, imported willow out there) so can wicker. And it isn’t only the quality of the wicker that can differ, it can also be the material itself.

wicker coffin
A willow / wicker coffin from Musgrove Willows

What is wicker?

The definition of wicker is that of pliable twigs. While these ‘twigs’ are typically willow this isn’t always the case.

Undertake an online search of ‘wicker coffins’ and all sorts of different coffins will probably appear. Among an array of willow coffins, you will often see a selection woven with materials such as bamboo and wild pineapple.

The choice of material and the way in which it is woven will have a huge bearing on the structural integrity of the finished coffin. Many people don’t realise that a crematorium is well within its rights to reject a poorly made, uncertified coffin.

The seal of approval

Our willow / wicker coffins have been tested by the Funeral Furnishing Manufacturers’ Association (FFMA). Established in 1939, the FFMA aims to safeguard the standards of various funeral products (e.g. wicker coffins) that members such as Musgrove Willows provide.

In 2017, Musgrove Willows received accreditation from the FFMA. Our willow coffins have passed rigorous testing for weight, strength and environmental impact. One of our willow coffins will comfortably hold 30 stones (190+ kilos) and we have built a bespoke willow coffin to hold 50 stones (317+ kilos) in weight. Well made willow handles aren’t just beautiful to look at. Ours are skilfully woven into the coffin to ensure weights such as those detailed above can be safely lifted.

Choose your wicker coffin carefully

If you are interested in purchasing a wicker coffin do look closely at what you are buying. If you are making the choice for environmental reasons, consider factors such as the air miles involved. Also, if the coffin is coming from overseas, are the staff making the coffin being treated fairly? Is the coffin fit for purpose?

Weaving a willow / wicker coffin
One of our skilled willow weavers at work

At Musgrove Willows, only willow grown on our Somerset farm is used to make our coffins. Many of our skilled weavers have been working here for years and they take real pride in their work. Our in-house training programme has enabled others to join their ranks, so we now have up to 10 weavers making coffins onsite. (Family and friends are welcome to visit our workshop to help to weave a coffin for a loved one. It’s a service that we are happy to provide free of charge.)

A final thought

For many of us, a coffin will form part of our final journey. If you do decide on a wicker coffin make sure that your selection is a worthy choice. It’s always good to travel in style.

A Rainbow willow coffin in a rainbow carriage