Before the pandemic, I started a series of visits to venues that offer interesting alternatives for funerals and memorial services. That had to be put to one side, but when I got a call from Marlene Lowe at Murrayshall Country Estate I decided to visit. I asked my celebrant colleague Angela Maughan to join me, as my initial thought was that Murrayshall would mainly be of interest to wedding celebrants. Angela conducts all sorts of ceremonies including many weddings each year.
First impressions reinforced my ideas that this is very much a place for weddings. It’s an attractive building set in beautiful grounds commanding spectacular views over the Tay valley and towards the mountains. It is very accessible from Perth (15 minutes taxi drive from the railway station) and a short drive from Dundee.
But as we toured the facilities and chatted to Marlene, it became clear that this venue offers potential for a whole range of different sorts of events. One obvious possibility is the funeral tea after a cremation or burial service. But there can be times, perhaps when someone dies suddenly and unexpectedly, when it’s hard for everyone to attend a funeral. In these cases, one solution is to hold a celebration of life weeks or months later – or on a significant anniversary. A beautiful setting like Murrayshall is perfect for those kinds of events. It also lends itself to other rites of passage: naming ceremonies, renewals of vows….
One reason people aren’t more creative in choosing venues for funerals and memorials is simply time. When someone dies there is so much to do that people understandably opt for the simplest solutions. That’s why it’s important to plan ahead and let your friends and family know your wishes. Easy to say! These issues of “death literacy” are tricky and people find it hard to discuss them. So it was good to chat to Marlene about how a venue like Murrayshall can help. Perhaps by hosting events like Death Cafés or Coffin Clubs. Or by working with organizations like the Scottish Independent Celebrants’ Association (SICA).
Thank you Marlene for your hospitality and hope to work with you soon!
Michael Hannah, Broughty Ferry, August 2022