Unique wake venues in Canterbury

Celebrate the life of your loved one with a meaningful wake in Canterbury.

Walk through Westgate Gardens, take a tour on the Great Stour River, or spend an afternoon in Westgate Towers and celebrate your loved one with a wake that best celebrates their life.

Hosting a wake in Canterbury 

A wake is an informal event that traditionally takes place after a funeral service and cremation or burial. It’s usually an informal event that involves family and friends gathering to share memories and celebrate the life of their loved one.

Traditionally, wakes would take place at someone’s home, or a community centre or pub, but they can take place anywhere. The people organising the wake may want to honour their loved one by holding the wake at a place that was special to them, such as at the grounds of their favourite football team, for example. 

Also, although wakes usually take place directly after the funeral service, they can be held at any time. They can also be as structured or as informal as the organiser would like. Wake organisers have the freedom to host the event that’s right for them, their family and friends, and their loved one.

If you’re organising a wake in Canterbury, there are plenty of unique venues where you can host the event in your own way, from a walk and picnic at Westgate Gardens to a punting tour on the Great Stour River. 

Find your funeral director in Canterbury who will help you arrange a cremation, and give you ideas for a wake, memorial, or reception that’s right for you. 

The word ‘wake’ descends from Old English and Old Norse

We think the word wake comes from the term lichwake or lyke-wake from the mid 13th century. In Old Norse (a North Germanic language) vaka meant vigil, to stay awake at a time usually meant for sleep. 

And in Old English the word wacu meant to watch. So the word wake is thought to have developed as a combination of wacu and vaka

Lich is an Old English word for a dead body. Often the gate at the lowest end of a cemetery was called the lich gate, as this is where funeral processions carried the body in.

 So lichwake literally means to stay up at night whilst we’re meant to be asleep to keep watch over the person who’s died. The tradition became most popular in Ireland and over time lost the word lich and became ‘wake’.

Westgate Gardens 

If your loved one enjoyed nature, then Westgate Gardens is the ideal place to hold their wake. Situated in Westgate Park, the gardens spread across 11 acres of beautiful grounds.

Why not walk through some of your loved one’s favourite parts of the garden, sharing memories about them as you do? There is plenty of space for you to have some privacy while taking a moment for reflection when needed. You could take a picnic to enjoy with your loved one’s friends and family, and raise a glass to them. 

Be sure to check the weather beforehand and to provide enough blankets and seats for everyone to be comfortable. There are plenty of walks spanning from the garden for you to enjoy too as you celebrate the life of your loved one.

Great Stour River

If your loved one enjoyed local history, then celebrate their life with a private tour on the River Stour. The historic river flows through Canterbury and is the ideal unique wake for those that loved their local area. 

For 45 minutes you can travel through Canterbury on a hand-built punt, learning more about Canterbury and its famous river. The tour will offer plenty of time for reflection and a chance to celebrate the life of your loved one. There are also drinks packages available for those that do not want the added stress of catering too. 

You can join a public tour, or hire the tour out for a private function. This will offer you the privacy to grieve and celebrate the life of your loved one in your own way. Be sure to head to the Canterbury punting website for accurate information about pricing and how to book the boat. There is also a free cancellation policy if your plans or the weather changes. 

Be sure to enquire directly about customising the trip to suit you and your needs. You can ask for the boat to stop to scatter ashes also if you wish, or for some quiet time for you to remember and celebrate the life of your loved one in a way that is right for you. 

Westgate Towers Museum

If your loved one enjoyed history, then host their wake at the Westgate Towers museum. You can start with a walk around your loved one’s favourite exhibitions, remembering your time spent here with them. You can also arrange for a private tour if you wish, but you will need to contact the museum beforehand to arrange this. You can take in the views of the city too and learn more about the area that your loved one enjoyed. 

Next, you could pay a visit to the restaurant in the former city jail and police station. Serving hot food daily, it is a wonderful place for your loved one’s friends and family to come together and celebrate their life. You can make a booking either online or over the phone. 

You can also book the entire Parade Room if you would like some privacy while you celebrate your loved one’s life. There are plenty of options to customise the wake to suit your needs best. 

Arrange a direct cremation

If you’d prefer to arrange a direct cremation, you can have a memorial at any time, anywhere you wish, perhaps at home or your loved one’s favourite pub.

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