Client: Henley Town Council
Completed: March 2021
Category: Places of Worship & Local Authorities
Contract Duration: 30 Weeks
Architect: West Waddy ADP LLP
What we did...

Services Provided:

  • Custom Joinery | Columbarium
  • Internal Refurbishment
  • Electrical & Lighting Installation
  • Structural Joinery & Re-roofing
  • Rainwater Goods

USL have recently completed an interesting internal conversion and Columbarium construction project at the Grade II Non-Conformist Victorian Chapel at Fairmile Cemetery near Henley-on-Thames.

Build in 1868, the Chapel is handsomely well detailed and has remained comparatively unaltered with knapped flint, freestone dressings and clay tile roof.  The Victorian interior is simply rendered with chamfered chancel arch and scissor-braced roof.  The council requested the Chapel’s interior to be transformed to include new Columbarium space (a quiet space designed to hold cinerary urns).  Prior to work commencing, the Chapel had no existing electrical, telephone and water services.

The interment of ashes in Columbaria is popular in Europe and is becoming more prevalent in the UK as a cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative to a traditional burial.

USL were pleased to carry out the Columbarium joinery and create hand-crafted hardwood cabinets holding glass-fronted niches. The design accommodated 234 niches of varies sizes for individuals, couples and families (spaces for approximately 372 urns).  Each niche featured its own soft LED lighting.

A key driver for the scheme was to create a space for quiet contemplation, filled with harmony and peace, a small escape from everyday life.

Conversion project works included;

  • Installation of new water supply.
  • Restoration and cleaning to quarry floor.
  • Repairs and lime plaster to all internal walls.
  • Cleaning & repairs to existing limestone fireplace.
  • Joinery works to create Guest Book Table / Cupboard in Ash veneer to match niche cabinet design.
  • Joinery works to create Control Cupboard to house electrical distribution board and system panels to match niche cabinet design.
  • Installation of heating tubes.
  • Creation of Niche Cabinets – freestanding units with ventilation gaps to the rear to allow walls to breathe.  Carcass in softwood framed in Ash veneer and French polished finish.  Niches designed in various sizes (standard 300x300mm), including recessed glass and interior LED lighting.  The design allows for the modules to be removable from carcass.
  • Repairs to chapel doors.
  • Electrical works and lighting installations to niches, cabinets and suspended lighting system to room including PIR sensor to all lighting.
  • Timber repairs to roof and re-roofing.
  • Replacement of all rainwater goods to perimeter of building including gutters and downpipes.


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"The project created a beautiful display structure, offering a stately presence for a final disposition."

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