An Independent Family Funeral Directors
With over 25 years experience
William Dunphy Funeral Directors Ltd began trading in June 1996 from our first office at 294 Brockley Road.
Initially just Bill & Nicki Dunphy were involved, followed by various members of our team. Will joined us when he was 18, Ross when he was 18 and Keith was…a bit older! They’re still with us today and have been joined by Jeanette, Sue, John, Dean & Bobby.
After 20 years we moved to larger premises across the street to 321 Brockley Road and opened our East Dulwich branch at 15 Grove Vale in December 2019. Sue runs the East Dulwich branch and also provides our memorial services with our stone mason.
In 2008 we opened our first flower shop in Honor Oak and then moved to better premises in Bellenden Road in Peckham in 2021. We have a great team of florists, Lisa, Julie & Hayley. Bellenden Florist is a busy and attractive shop and we can provide great tributes for our customers.
Over the years we have added to our fleet and our premises. We use silver/grey Jaguars and black Vivaro vans. We now have a very large mortuary premises and work with various other funeral directors and hospitals to provide mortuary facilities.
Bill retired as a director and partner in 2023, selling his share of the business to Nicki, but still conducts funerals in his capacity as a minister.
Since we opened 27 years ago there have been massive changes in the funeral industry.
There are now many more women in the trade than ever before. In 1996 Nicki was the only female owner in the area, there were no female bearers or conductors and the vast majority of staff were male. There were very few women in any area of responsibility. She remembers people would call and ask to speak to ‘the boss’ and when she replied they were speaking with the boss, they’d then ask to speak with the man in charge. Times were challenging to say the least!
Up until recently, most funerals had a religious aspect and funerals hadn’t changed much since the 19th century. People who hadn’t been to church since they were at school had a religious service even though they didn’t practice or believe. Now as well as religious services we have so many options, whether it’s a funeral with a direct burial or cremation with no service, a Humanist or non-religious celebrant or one of the many independent celebrants. Our celebrants are all friendly and approachable and offer a more holistic or person-centred service, tailored to meet the needs and wishes of the modern person. We believe that the funeral isn’t just about an hour at the cemetery or crematorium, it’s about a lifetime of memories.
One of the biggest changes is a direct result of the pandemic. Approximately 18% of funerals in the UK are now ‘direct’ funerals. This is a funeral service that is unattended and usually involves cremation. There are many reasons for this, not just financial but other reasons too – maybe Dad always said, ‘just chuck me in the wheelie bin’ or ‘I’ll be dead, I don’t care what you do’. We can’t do the wheelie bin option, but we can do simple and dignified.
There is much more awareness of environmental issues in the funeral industry. Our coffins are all certified to FSC standard and we try and bulk order to reduce the number of deliveries. The majority of our wooden coffins are made in the UK. Our suppliers use ‘greener’ vehicles and manufacturing processes. We try and obtain our wicker, willow, wool, cardboard and bamboo coffins from as close to home as possible and where they have to be imported, we use companies that use the ‘Russian doll’ stacking method to reduce their carbon footprint. Depending on location, quite often our families walk to the cemetery or crematorium instead of using a limousine, which is a lovely way to feel more involved in a funeral. We are now allowed to bury bodies without a coffin in many cemeteries, as long as a shroud is used. This is the preferred option for many people who are Muslim. Unfortunately, very few crematoriums allow it as management cite health and safety of their staff as a constraint.
We don’t have many woodland or natural options for burial in London due to lack of capacity. Our closest cemetery, Brockley & Ladywell does have a woodland section which is beautifully wild and left to nature. There are however several other woodland sites in East London, Kent & Essex. London boroughs have seriously underestimated the need for burial space which has led to a lack of provision and higher costs. Southwark cemeteries will be re-opening Camberwell Old Cemetery in the near future and we’re hoping that there will be options for woodland burials there.
Cremation accounts for approximately 72% of funerals in the UK. This figure has remained fairly constant during the past 40 years. Cremation isn’t the most environmentally way of disposing of a person’s remains, but the other options are very limited and expensive. Crematoriums now have to filter their emissions which has led to an increase in costs to the client but has reduced the amounts of pollutants that reach the atmosphere. In the next few years, we expect to see newer ‘greener’ methods such as Resomation and composting but everything takes years to change.
When we first started arranging funerals there was a very limited number of coffins and caskets available for our clients to select. Our first brochure contained 8 coffins and 3 caskets. The last time we checked, we could offer from a selection from 15 companies and over 500 options! Despite all the options available, we always initially offer the cheapest and simplest to our clients and give them time to make a choice.
There is now a much wider choice of funeral vehicles available now. 27 years ago, the option was Daimler hearse - or Daimler hearse or black horse-drawn carriage with black horses . Now we have Land Rovers, Route Master buses, various bikes, lorries, a VW Camper van, leopard print hearse, pink hearse, rainbow hearse, Reliant Robin hearse and a choice of carriage and horse colours. We’ve even heard of a family that used llamas!
Arranging A Funeral
After a death the question people will ask you is ‘when is the funeral?’ but the first thing we need to know is whether the funeral will be a burial, cremation or repatriation.
This is important because there will be different paperwork requirements for the differing types of funerals.
It’s best to speak to us about what paperwork is needed because it will vary depending on where the deceased passed away, whether the Coroner is involved and where the funeral will take place.
Once you have decided on the type of funeral you wish to have we will liaise with next-of-kin, place of worship, crematorium or cemetery or airline and overseas funeral director.
We will check the choice of dates available and find the dates and times that are best suited to your needs. We will help you arrange things like the coffin, music, service booklets, flowers and the reception plus any extras you may choose.