What furniture do you need for a crematorium?

Most people will (hopefully) only rarely have to visit a crematorium. However, when they’re there they’ll expect it to be well furnished and include all of the pieces of furniture that a crematorium is ‘supposed’ to have. So, whether you’re running a local authority or an independent, private crematorium, read our guide to ensure you’ve got all of the correct pieces of furniture you need.


This is probably the first thing people think of when the subject of crematoriums crops up.

A catafalque acts as the central focal point of a crematorium as it is the platform on which the coffin is placed during the memorial service. 

According to the writer Peter Stanford, the term catafalque is derived from the Italian catafalco, which means scaffolding. The Oxford English Dictionary on the other hand states that the term is “of unknown derivation”.

Nevertheless, catafalques have been a part of Christian funerals for centuries and, for the majority of people, are an expected part of a funeral service.

As such, this is probably the most important piece of furniture you will buy for your crematorium. 

Rosehill Catafalque

Rosehill Catafalque

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Here at Rosehill we offer bespoke catafalques which are made to order for your crematorium. We offer them in a choice of timbers including beech, oak, ash and walnut and can make them in almost any size or specification.

Aside from customising the overall look of your catafalque, Rosehill also allows you to customise the top section; you can choose from either rollers or ball-bearings. The ball bearing option allows you to move a coffin in multiple directions when required (as opposed to rollers which are unidirectional).

When it comes to purchasing a catafalque for your crematorium, there’s one final thing to take into consideration; the amount of weight the catafalque is able to support. This is an especially important consideration for local authority crematoriums that have to adhere to guidelines around crematoria furnishings.

At Rosehill our catafalques are manufactured with a minimum weight capacity of 50 stone (317kg), however we are able to craft catafalques that are able to support upwards of 60 stone and will work around the specification you need. In other words, just tell us what you need. 


Perhaps the second thing people tend to associate with crematoriums is lecterns. 

At its most basic a lectern is a slanted reading desk on which books or papers can be placed for support whilst an individual is reading aloud – that’s why a lectern is called a lectern, it’s name being derived from the Latin legere which means ‘to read’.

There are many different types of lectern available on the market, however the two main types you’ll tend to see used in crematoriums are freestanding lecterns and box lecterns.

Freestanding lecterns

Rosehill Freestanding Lectern

Rosehill Freestanding Lectern

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Freestanding lecterns tend to be designed with a single column which supports the sloped reading platform. 

Freestanding lecterns tend to be slimmer and of lighter weight than box lecterns. If you think you’ll have to move the lectern on a semi-regular basis, then we’d suggest opting for a freestanding lectern.

When looking for a freestanding lectern for your crematorium there are several other things you should consider. 

Firstly, and most importantly, the material it’s made from. Whilst it’s possible to buy cheaper particle board lecterns, we’d strongly recommend buying a lectern that’s made from solid timber.

At Rosehill our freestanding lecterns are made from either solid oak or solid beech. This creates a solid, quality lectern that’ll provide many years (or even decades) of service. 

Aside from checking what material a lectern is made from, you should also check that it has a lip edging on the reading platform. This will help to keep books/papers in place and prevent any embarrassing situations such as papers falling to the floor during a reading. 

Box lecterns

Rosehill Box Lectern

Rosehill Box Lectern

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Box lecterns are a far more substantial form of lectern. As their name suggests they feature a box construction and can often double up as pulpits as well as lecterns.

When looking at box lecterns we’d recommend only purchasing ones that are made from quality solid timbers such as oak or beech.

As with freestanding lecterns, it’s handy to select a box lectern that features a lip edge on the platform which will help to keep papers/books in place. 

Many quality box lecterns will also feature an interior shelf which can be used to store books or other small items.

When selecting a box lectern you should take into account any other additional functional requirements you may have. For example, many crematoriums today use microphone systems. At Rosehill we can customise our box lecterns with internal routing for microphone/electrical cables etc. This keeps the lectern looking nice and neat, whilst also allowing you to incorporate additional features. 

Note – whilst we manufacture box lecterns for both churches and crematoriums, we understand that crematoriums are non-denominational. As such, our box lecterns come without religious symbols such as crucifixes as standard (but you can always specify the addition of symbols should you require).

Modesty Panel

Rosehill Modesty Panel

Rosehill Modesty Panel

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If you want to create a chapel-like feel in your crematorium, then we’d highly recommend purchasing a modesty panel. 

A modesty panel is a thin board of (generally) wood which is used to hide legs and feet from view when people are sat down.

Modesty panels have been used in churches and other places of religious worship since the eighteenth century, and as such, have become an expected part of a church going experience. So, if you want to set the appropriate tone and atmosphere in your crematorium, then a modesty panel will help. 

At Rosehill, all of our modesty panels are manufactured to order which means you can specify a panel that’s of the perfect size and dimensions for your particular crematorium. 

Our modesty panels can be customised even further with the option to have the front panel upholstered. Whilst our modesty panels are made from beech as standard, you do have the option to upgrade to solid oak. Plus, you can choose to have the wood stained one of five additional colours.

You can also specify that your modesty panels are fitted with a small shelf which can be used to store hymn books and orders of service etc.

Open rail modesty panels

Rosehill Open Rail Modesty Panel

Rosehill Open Rail Modesty Panel

Whilst an open rail modesty panel may sound like a contradiction in terms, these types of modesty panels are becoming increasingly popular in crematoriums.

They provide much the same function as traditional modesty panels, establishing clear boundaries for the attendees and delineating between the seating area and the service area, whilst also featuring a more open design which will help your crematorium feel lighter and more modern.

Rosehill Open Rail Modesty Panel

Rosehill Open Rail Modesty Panel

When selecting an open rail modesty panel you’ll have a number of choices including whether or not to include a book shelf (as pictured above) as well as lip edges which will prevent books from sliding off the shelf. 


Rosehill Excel Chair

Rosehill Excel Chair

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Next on our list of crematorium furniture essentials is seating. 

Whilst the average funeral service will only last around an hour, it’s important that you offer attendees at your crematorium comfortable, solid seating. 

Here at Rosehill we offer a wide range of chairs which are suitable for use in crematoriums, however you may wish to select a seat with additional features such as links (to help you create rows of connected seats), a book box (for storing Bibles and hymn books), or under rails. 

One seat which combines all of these features is our Excel Chair

With traditional styling the Excel chair has a great presence and will add gravitas to any crematorium. It features a high back for excellent lumbar support with the option of increasing the depth of the back pad to provide even further support and comfort.

The Excel also has a wide ‘box’ seat pad which is not only comfortable, but features panel stitching to create an elegant, yet understated appearance. You can also customise the Excel with a variety of different wooden frame options, stain colours and upholstery finishes.

Crematorium seating buying tips

We know that some crematoria, especially local authority run crematoria, can be very busy with up to 10 services a day. This means seating receives a considerable amount of use. 

From speaking to our crematorium customers we’ve found that seats with cleanable fabrics are the most useful – particularly in heavy-use environments. 

Churchill Deluxe Crematorium Chair

Churchill Deluxe Crematorium Chair

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That’s why we ensure that our most popular crematorium seats such as the Churchill Deluxe (up to 90% of our crematorium chairs sold are this model), can be customised to be upholstered in cleanable, treated and premium fabrics. 

What’s more, we ensure that our most popular crematorium chairs such as the Churchill Deluxe have a robust construction and are built with mortise and tenon joints. This ensures they are very strong and able to withstand the heavy use associated with crematorium environments.

Curtains and blinds

Rosehill Curtains and Blinds

Rosehill Curtains & Blinds

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We know curtains and blinds don’t necessarily count as furniture, but they are absolutely a crematorium essential. 

Curtains can help you to close off the catafalque at appropriate times of the service, as well as helping you to create a comforting feel and atmosphere within your crematorium more generally.

New curtains are also a great way of revitalising and refreshing a crematorium without you having to undertake extensive refurbishments or completely redecorating. 

At Rosehill we offer a full curtain and blind supply and install service. Our curtains are available with the option of manual or electric tracks. For crematoriums we tend to use a quieter and slower motor, as we are conscious of the environment in which the curtains are set.

You can select from a wide choice of fabric types and colours, so it’s easy to select curtains and blinds that’ll fit with your overall decor. 

All of our curtains are contract quality, fully fire retardant and suitable for public or commercial buildings. 

Furniture for other parts of your crematorium

Deluxe Modular Reception Seating

Deluxe Modular Reception Seating

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We know that a crematorium is much more than the single room in which services are held. If you have a reception area or waiting room, or an office for administration and purposes, we can provide furniture for those rooms too.

Rosehill: for all your crematorium furniture needs

So there you have it; our guide to crematorium furniture essentials. We hope you’ve found it useful. 

If you’re looking for furniture for your crematorium, please explore our website. And, if you find yourself in need of any advice or further information, please contact our friendly knowledgeable team on 0161 485 1717 or email sales@rosehill.co.uk

Shop crematorium furniture at Rosehill today

For more furniture buying advice, information and guidance, explore the Rosehill blog

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