The History of Harwood Park Crematorium and Memorial Gardens

Harwood Park is owned and managed by the Austin Family, who have served the community as funeral directors for over three centuries.

W. Austin and Sons Limited was originally established in 1700 in Graveley in Hertfordshire. It passed down through the generations and in 1965 John Austin – father to Claire, the current managing director – took over the helm.

It was John’s vision to provide a crematorium to serve the local community but he was unable to get council backing to build on municipal land. Frustrated by the lack of support and with the popularity of cremation rising, John decided to source a plot of private land himself. He found the perfect spot – sprawling farmland in the village of Datchworth, close to the A1 (M) and A602. Ten years later, after a decade trying to secure planning permission, John finally realised his dream and in February 1997 Harwood Park Crematorium and Memorial Gardens was finally opened.

The design of the crematorium was meticulously and sensitively planned. There were little touches like a large window in the chapel to flood the space with light and give a view out onto the calming countryside. It was John’s idea to build raised areas to make it easier for wheelchair users to view the floral tributes. He thought of everything, right down to an exit system so that different groups of mourners wouldn’t have to pass each other.

John Austin passed away in 2012 but his daughter Claire continues the family business, providing sympathetic and sensitive care to each and every person who comes to Harwood Park.

Find out more about the Harwood Park team.