ONE of the largest cemeteries in the region has become the very first in the UK to harness 21st century technology and offer customers a virtual tour of its facilities.

Memorial Woodlands in Alveston is pioneering the new concept to demystify the funeral process by allowing anyone to visit the grounds via Google Business Tour and even experience being inside a grave.

It is the only woodlands cemetery to have opened up its burial grounds to internet users. But there is more to it than just moving on with the times, according to managing director Wayne Armstrong.

“What we offer here at the Memorial Woodlands is time, space and privacy, which is difficult to convey in static photograph," he said. "Our online tour has been created with the intention of allowing everyone to obtain a genuine feel for the beauty and tranquillity of our grounds, as well as our offices, reception rooms and chapel.

“It is natural to be anxious about a funeral, so families considering holding a service here, or planning to attend one soon, can look around and familiarise themselves with the location beforehand, meaning there can be less of an adjustment needed on the day.

“Anyone who may be nervous about having to address a congregation, for example, can even use the tour to prepare for this in advance by experiencing just what it is like to ‘stand’ behind the chapel lectern.”

Better Reach, one of the biggest Google Trusted Agencies in the UK, recently spent two days at the Memorial Woodlands taking a series of over 3,000 photographs, to create one of the largest business tour projects in the country to date. The pictures were then embedded directly into Google servers.

The tour is designed to help those planning a funeral by illustrating what is involved in both traditional and contemporary funerals. It includes a mock-up of an environmentally-friendly burial service. Users can also experience the view from inside an actual grave.

Memorial Woodlands plans to commission Better Reach to produce further Business Tours in five yearly intervals, allowing people to watch the woodland grow.

The tour can be found on Google maps search pages and on the Memorial Woodlands website at