Farthing Funeral Service

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Funeral Directors Category: East of England

  • Luke Farthing. Other Farthing people who also conduct funerals are Andrea Race, Chris Griggs and Sharon McDonald.

    Farthing Funeral Service is a rare thing; a long established business that has retained the best of the past – the acquired experience and knowledge of over a century and three quarters of carrying out funerals for local families – and married it to a canny eye on the rapidly changing needs of bereaved families in the 21st century. The combination is strikingly successful.

    Luke has spent most of his life immersed in the funeral business. The youngest of four sons, all born and brought up in Ipswich, he and his brothers all helped their parents Donald and Margaret during the school holidays. Luke studied law at Cambridge, but soon after graduating he joined the Ipswich office in 1985 to work full time for the family firm, along with his eldest brother Robert.

    Back then, it was known as Farthing, Singleton and Hastings, the latter names reflecting the 19thcentury undertakers who had served the families of Ipswich since 1840. Like many small undertaking firms established in Victorian times, the original C. Hastings and Son and Edward S. Singleton businesses had gone up for sale after many decades, and the Farthing family ended up acquiring them in 1960 and 1975 respectively. Luke’s grandfather, Stanley Farthing had come into funerals from the building trade, like so many of his generation, and his son Donald had taken on the responsibility for the funeral side of their work.

    The history of Farthings is important because it shows the deep roots the company has in the community it belongs to. The years of serving families from Ipswich and the surrounding villages imbue the business with the patina of immense trustworthiness, and this is well deserved, but this is no company that relies on former reputation to keep going. The Farthing men clearly had vision and determination to build on the quality of the company they inherited custody of, and Donald and Margaret and their sons steered the business safely through the years of change in the 1970s and 80’s, retaining their independence with determination as many other firms succumbed to being bought out by national and then multi-national companies.

    Instead of following the trend of the time, Farthings instead embarked on an investment programme that saw the Felixstowe branch refurbished, and the Ipswich branch relocated to a purpose built, brand new premises in 1993. Deben House in Woodbridge Road was designed with thoughtfulness and insight to be a place where bereaved families would feel a sense of calm and tranquility as soon as they entered the building.

    The reception area is spacious, light and airy, with a quiet calm that immediately settles the mind, a striking water feature provides a soothing sound in the background, and comfortable sofas to one side of the door offer a waiting area where you can gather your thoughts before being taken into one of the lounge style rooms to begin to talk about why you have come here. Large windows and an atrium above the water feature allow natural light to spill generously into the space, and there is no clutter, just big plants and a few pieces of furniture that have obviously been carefully chosen.

    Everything about Deben House sets the tone for your experience with Farthings. There is a quietness and a quality to the feeling of the building, and this reflects the people who you will meet here. Luke’s wife Liz has now joined him to work full time in the family business, after supporting him for the last three decades while bringing up their four children. They are clearly devoted to their life’s work, to providing the best possible experience for the families who entrust them with funeral arrangements and their integrity and thoughtfulness emanates throughout the business.

    Liz has a natural attention to detail and an awareness of the importance of the smallest of subtleties, which makes her a perfect fit with Luke’s years of experience and quiet competence. They both have warm and generous natures and an unflappability about them, you sense that nothing would faze them, and no matter how complicated or chaotic a scenario might arise, you would be in safe and capable hands here. And it’s not at all somber, there’s none of the faux sympathy, no servile attitude, no paternalistic authority or strange and unfamiliar terminology – everything about Farthings is straightforward, open and transparent. And personal.

    The years of service that underpin today’s experience of Farthings are complemented by a forward looking, 21st century understanding of the complexities of bereavement and a devotion to getting everything right for you. Luke, Liz and their team share a commitment to providing the highest standard of personal service for families who choose them, and they will put themselves out in whatever way required to ensure that you get exactly what you want or need from them.

    Professional training is something that really matters to the Farthings, Luke was an examiner for the National Association of Funeral Directors for many years, as well as a premises inspector, and the calibre of staff that work alongside them is extremely high. Andrea Race, who looks after the Debenham branch, achieved the award for the highest marks in the Diploma in Funeral Directing, and Sharon McDonald who assists Luke and Liz in the Ipswich branch also arranges and conducts funerals. Chris Griggs runs the Felixstowe branch, and he has benefited from individual tuition by Luke, learning from one of the best funeral directors in the land.

    In addition to the professional training that underpins their work, there is also an awareness of the need for self-care, for mindful compassion and for emotional support and awareness for staff who deal daily with the sadness of others. Liz is a great advocate for this, and, along with her creative eye and sense of integrity, this is an aspect that sets Farthings apart from other, less thoughtfully aware funeral directors.

    The Farthings team have all been with the company for a number of years, with Mick Peirson and Paul Pyther being the other team members you may come across, along with some trusted part time staff. This small number of people together provide tremendous service for families from Ipswich, Felixstowe and the many villages throughout the area. The continuity of care that the company prides itself on means that you will have one person providing committed personal and individual attention to your needs throughout your dealings with them, and they will genuinely treat you as if you are the only person they are looking after.

    Specific Gravity

    Devotion. The feeling of absolute commitment to being of service and of use to families who have been bereaved is quite tangible at Farthings, but in a quiet and understated way. The heritage of 176 years of experience serving local families is important – for the right reasons, there is a trustworthiness and confidence born from years of looking after others, and a sense of safety, of continuity. Luke is a gentle and charming man who has a real awareness of the privilege of his calling, and he is well respected both in his community and by other local funeral directors for his way of doing things. He is described by a fellow funeral director as ‘a true scholar and a gent’, and his passion for caring for bereaved families is imbued in the values of his business.

    What’s Important?

    Supporting each family to choose and create exactly the type of funeral that they want or need. Committed personal attention for everyone who entrusts them to care for a relative. Dedication, and attention to detail.

    What’s Different?

    A willingness to change and adapt as society’s needs from undertakers evolve. Many funeral directors with such a long history take a long time to do things differently – Farthings are looking ahead with interest and excitement, and responding to the changing needs of families with thoughtful and intuitive ideas. This willingness to change and adapt is not new – the mortuary area at Ipswich looks like it has just been refurbished, but it was installed over twenty years ago anticipating the needs of the 21st century.

    We also really liked the new look of the business – in 2015, which was the 175th anniversary and which also coincided with Luke’s brother Robert retiring from the company, Luke and Liz decided to change the literature and the website and give the ‘brand’ a fresh new style. The logo of the Viking ship gives a nod to the River Deben where the Viking burial was found, and also acknowledges Luke’s love of sailing, a personal passion which is reflected in the paintings of local rivers on the walls of the branches.


    • Your first call will be most likely answered by Luke or Liz if it’s after hours. During office hours you will speak to Chris if you call Felixstowe, Sharon, Andrea, Luke or Liz will take your call at Ipswich, and as Debenham is a tiny branch open by appointment they will probably pick up the phone to a Debenham caller too.
    • Home visits – yes, more than half the families who choose Farthings prefer to make the funeral arrangements at home. For those who go into one of the branches, arrangements will be made in one of the lounges designed to make families feel as if they are in a comfortable sitting room rather than a funeral director’s office.
    • Family participation – positively encouraged.
    • Same sex person to wash and dress? Yes, just mention this if it is important.
    • Embalming – not encouraged unless it is felt there is a good reason (long delay / journey involved or the nature of the illness before death) but it will be discussed if they feel it is advisable or if you indicate you want to consider it.
    • Ethnic specialism – happy to serve everyone of any ethnicity or culture.
    • Home arranged funerals – yes, if you need advice or some assistance with caring for someone yourself Farthings are happy to help, and have done so in the past.
    • Local celebrants – They can suggest really good celebrants to work with you to create the type of funeral you want, and will offer you a choice of different people.
    • Website – recently redone, the website is fresh and attractive and includes a ‘My Wishes’ downloadable form where you can note your preferences for your funeral.
    • Client support – excellent support throughout your involvement with them, then, if needed, you will be gently signposted towards specialist support after the funeral. Luke trained as a bereavement visitor for Cruse and was involved in the establishment of the Ipswich branch in the 1990’s so fully appreciates the value of specialist bereavement counselling.
    • Money matters – very good value. Farthings are not the cheapest in the area, their prices are mid-range, but they will give you 100% personal service and attention and a service of exceptional quality.
    • Parking – There is parking on the forecourt at all branches, although at Felixstowe you may prefer to use the parking bays opposite to save getting back out onto the road with traffic approaching round a bend.


    Really lovely, gentle, thoughtful people who are completely committed to getting it right for you.

    The calibre of this business is not just in its pedigree, quality though that is, it is in the ethos of service and their intelligent understanding of how important their role is in serving you.


    Any decisions you take on engaging the services of a funeral director should be based on your views and research. You should not rely solely upon the views and opinions offered by us.

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    Reviews from the old GFG site
    2 years ago


    The arrangement meetings helped me to decide what options were most appropriate and meaningful to me and Sarah suggested some good ideas to me that I would not have thought about. The staff carefully told me about all the options in a very kind and helpful way. They supported me extremely well throughout. Nothing seemed to be too much trouble for them I had the feeling every single thing was so well thought out to provide their excellent service. Full Circle was a lovely environment. It was not gloomy or dark, but very well decorated and bright. Everything looked so very well thought out to give this impression.
    I would just like to say that the service I received at this very sad time could not have been more professional. Sarah went out of her way at all times to accommodate my wishes. She was so very kind and patient and went out of her way to be as helpful as she could. She assisted in every way she could, even making suggestions to try and save me money, which I doubt any other funeral director would have done. It was a terribly sad time for me, but Sarah and her colleagues, by showing the level of kindness and empathy that they did, made the whole thing easier to bear.

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    Coming to England from Australia in a hurry meant we had no idea who to contact. Full Circle was recommended by the Social Worker and David contacted me immediately via email and then followed up on the phone once we were in the UK. David made the whole process easy and hassle free and was very professional and patient. Nothing was too much trouble for him. Thanks David !

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    In the arrangement meetings, we were always given options and open to requests about what we wanted, and also given some helpful ideas on matters. David was in constant communication with us regarding matters and made it quite clear to us we were to never hesitate in contacting him. His manner was sincere at all times whilst being professional with his service. The premises were very calming and welcoming, a feeling of being ‘at home’ which made us feel relaxed. The room where we viewed was set up really lovely and peaceful. The arrangements of photographs etc and the music were just right to provide the ambience needed. Full Circle made, what so easily could have been the most difficult and painful time in our lives, that little bit easier to bear. We will definitely recommend your services without hesitation.

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    Sarah and the team were kind and patient throughout the process, guiding my elderly grandmother through the difficult decisions she had to make about the arrangements for the funeral of her husband of 70 years. My Grandad was a very special man and Full Circle treated him with complete dignity and gave amazing support to my grandmother.

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    All the funeral options were clearly explained. The staff were very helpful and understanding. Sarah understood what we wanted and explained how we could do it. Their environment was comfortable and welcoming. We could not be happier with the way Sarah arranged things. She did a brilliant job all round. It helped us to get through this difficult period.

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    I already knew about the Natural Death Centre website and you were the closest funeral director on the list. When I met Sarah, I knew straight away that you would be perfect. At our initial meeting, Sarah was very open about all of the options available. I had no idea what path we would end up taking and throughout the whole process I felt guided but not rushed. Sarah realised that it was going to take me a while to make decisions and she gave me the space and information to do that. All of the staff were incredible. I felt cared for, I felt safe, I felt comfortable with everyone. I also knew that they would look after Andrew – that he wasn’t just a number, he was someone who was very loved. The building is very welcoming – such a contrast to traditional funeral directors with closed curtains and a headstone in the window! It was such a lovely space we decided to hold our memorial service there – it felt safe and peaceful and I knew we would be looked after. There are not enough superlatives to express my gratitude to Sarah and her team. At what was probably the worst time in my life they looked after me and they helped us to create a very meaningful and beautiful service for my husband. They have also followed up with support and I feel like they are still in the background looking out for me. Above and beyond anything I could have imagined. At our first meeting Sarah told me that we would create a final, beautiful and special memory with Andrew. I wouldn’t have thought it was possible for this to happen, but that is exactly what we did. Everyone has told me how perfect it was. David did an amazing job as our celebrant and we all felt that the service truly reflected how much Andrew was loved, which was what I wanted. I would wish the same for anyone else having to go through this process.

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    Although we had a fairly clear idea of what we were looking for, Sarah and Ruth steered us through the process, outlining options available to us in a professional and sensitive manner. We found the staff to be really helpful and approachable. Nothing seemed too much trouble. Sarah and Ruth’s amenable dispositions and sensitivity allowed us, as a family, to thoroughly consider and explore what was right for us, without feeling rushed or pushed through the process. Having had previous negative experiences of visiting cold and impersonal funeral chapels, we found Full Circle’s premises really welcoming and pleasant.

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    A sensitive and highly professional approach. I felt that my wishes were put as a priority. Flexible and extremely helpful at such a difficult time. I was offered help at every stage, including catering, printing and on the day itself. I am so pleased that my mother and cousin introduced me to Full Circle, They were the absolutely right people to handle my husband’s funeral arrangements. They went out of their way to ensure the experience was as positive as it could be. Everything was dealt with in a caring and sensitive manner.

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    Outstanding service. Sarah and her team put our needs first. Tailor made a package that worked for us. Felt no pressure. Very professional and courteous. High level of integrity. Just what you need during your time of grieving. Highly recommend.

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    Sarah and Dave did an amazing job arranging our family funeral. We wanted it to be special and they went over and beyond to make sure we ended up with a ceremony which was meaningful for us. I’m pleased we chose the eco-hearse and it was nice that their premises were comfortable and modern, completely different to other funeral directors we’ve visited in the past Thanks again for everything and I would certainly recommend Full Circle.

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    I can honestly say that Sarah and the team at Full Circle made a really sad and difficult time, one that I will savour and never forget. From the calm, friendly and relaxed atmosphere at their premises in Guiseley, to the refreshing approach that nothing, absolutely nothing is too much trouble, Sarah ensured that we considered every option and possibility as we planned to say Goodbye to our Mum and much loved Nanny to 9 grandchildren. Their impeccable service, understanding and caring approach will be part of my memories of my Mum and the day we said Goodbye and I can honestly say no amount of money can buy this kind of service. Thank you so much for what you did for our family and for my Mum.

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    From the first phone call to saying goodbye you got it spot on. No pressure, complete empathy and making wonderful suggestions that helped us create a wonderful send off for Gran that was extremely special for all of us. Sarah, you were always available, prompt, proactive and sensitive – but not too formal, which was what we wanted. Both you and Dave struck exactly the right tone at the funeral and everyone commented on how refreshing your approach was. Wonderful facilities, it felt friendly and welcoming. We were so relieved when we knew Grandma was with you. And the flower arranging was wonderful – we’ll remember it always! We can’t thank you enough for the sensitive and caring way you handled arranging Grandma’s funeral. You took the time to get to know us, the suggestions you made were extremely helpful and gave us ideas we’d never have thought of. Allowing us to prepare the flowers at Full Circle and having the Great Grandchildren prepare letters and pictures for Grandma’s coffin was such a special thing to do. Thanks to you my children’s first experience of a funeral has been so incredible positive! And above all Grandma would have loved it!

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    Irene Stephenson, Director Wise Owls Consultancy

    Wise Owls is a hospitality consultant business and attention to details regarding customer service is paramount to me and my business. I was so glad to have been recommended to Full Circle Funerals, they were everything I wanted in a funeral service provider, sincere, caring and completely flexible. Their help and advice during this sad time made my family and I feel extremely supported during our choices for our dear mother’s funeral. Every member of our family was grateful for they delivered a beautiful send-off of a much beloved Mother, Grand-Mother and Great Grand-Mother. I was so very impressed with the exceptional level of service from Full Circle Funerals that both I and my family would not hesitate to recommend this company.

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    Maureen Mandirahwe Wilson

    Thank you to Full Circle Funerals for their support during the loss of our father. They brought with them a personalised and professional service at very challenging timelines. Sarah brought with her a lot of calm at such a difficult time -a trait all family members noted. The service was tailored to our needs and I will highly recommend them.

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    I would like to thank Full Circle and in particular David for the kindness shown in helping organise my mum’s funeral. My mum wanted immediate family only to send her on her final journey to join my dad who died 10 years ago, which meant we were a small group of 5. My dad’s funeral was again very small and because we were never told any different we went down the “usual” route and 6 of us sat in a large cold crematorium listening to someone reciting back to us what we had told him. I left the crematorium feeling that we had said goodbye in a cold and impersonal way and I didn’t want the same for my mum. I told David about that experience and he suggested that instead of going to a large crematorium we could if we wanted use their premises – I had no idea that you could do that! My sisters and I wanted our goodbyes to take the form of us visiting mum at home so we asked if we could use the smaller back room, have flowers in vases, a picture of mum and dad in the room, and place cards and family photos in mum’s beautiful poppy coffin and have a sofa and chairs moved into the room. David asked us what sort of music we wanted playing and we had Rod Stewart, Frank Sinatra, and a couple of songs mum used to whistle and sing along to, all playing in the background. We cried, chatted, laughed and sang and when our time came to leave mum we left her in a warm and loving environment. Thank you so much Full Circle for helping us say goodbye to our mum in the most perfect way and for showing that there is more than one way to say goodbye. I will have no hesitation in recommending you to friends.

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    We appreciated the care and language used during the funeral arrangement. It was clear, informative and empowered the family to make informed decisions at a very sad time. Full Circle went above expectations, I especially appreciated the time put in it to find the right music to send my Mum off in the most perfect way possible.

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    I have nothing but praise for the work Sarah did and for how everything was put together. The circumstances were very difficult, working with two families who didn’t know each other and a bereaved relative who was unable to give you much assistance. The people you brought with you all acted very appropriately and I was very glad you were able to join us afterwards for the refreshments. You kept in touch with everyone at each stage in the process and gathered the consensus of opinion where necessary. I would definitely highly recommend Full Circle Funerals.

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    Muriel Thomas

    Dear David, Sarah and everyone at Full Circle,

    I want to express to yourselves and to your entire team how very much your care, concern and attention to detail has meant to me during a most difficult time.

    As you are aware, my husband’s illness spanned a very short period of time – just six weeks- and I had no time to prepare either physically or emotionally for the issues I was about to face. I know that at times I was naturally tearful and at others may have seemed inappropriately humorous, yet I never felt in any way judged by you. you especially David as I saw more of you, have an innate skill at assessing a person’s mood and needs and putting yourself naturally onto their wavelength. This is a skill which cannot be taught.

    So I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for making this time as stress free as it is possible for it to be.

    You treated my husband as a special person – as indeed he was – and whilst he was in your care I know that he was respected and treated with dignity – as I was.

    I cannot thank you enough.

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    Thank you so much Sarah and Dave, for listening to our wishes, being supportive, and providing a personal and meaningful experience. Our mother would have been very happy.

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    A big thank you to David and Sarah for taking the time to show me around, sensitively explaining the options. They made me feel much calmer about the choices available to me. The home was thoughtfully decorated and I was able to park right outside.

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