Funeral Directors Category: London
Poppy Mardall is the founder of this modern funeral company which has
grown from humble beginnings to become a smart, contemporary business
with a team of dedicated and passionate staff. We first met Poppy when she
was researching the funeral world back in 2011 and it has been fascinating
to watch her journey to where the company is today: as the founder of one
of London’s leading progressive funeral directors.
From the beginning Poppy’s has sought to be different; a modern and
female-led ethical funeral directors centred around outstanding care for
both living and dead clients, choice and transparency and a respect for the
The business operates from the most beautiful premises, a lovely light
Victorian building in the grounds of Lambeth Cemetery. Formerly the
cemetery office, Poppy’s now has the use of the entire building, with three
airy reception rooms downstairs used for family meetings, and the offices
located upstairs. A few steps away is one of the original chapels which now
houses Poppy’s bespoke mortuary – unlike any other we have visited – and
a small family room where families can spend time with the person who
Everywhere in both buildings there is the same feeling of light and air; the
meeting rooms are comfortable and stylishly furnished. Contemporary
artwork is displayed on the walls, loaned from Sprout Arts, a community
Arts Group showcasing local artists. Kids are welcome, and baskets of
interesting puzzles and games are provided for any children accompanying
families visiting the premises. The thoughtful anticipation of what people
might need is continued in the baskets of useful items in the bathrooms –
nappies, wipes and sanitary stuff all there to help yourself to if you need it.
The mortuary space is high ceilinged, with sunlight streaming in through
the arched windows.
The hardwood flooring complements the light wooden panelling on the
walls left over from the days that this building was used for funeral
ceremonies – there is no plastic flooring here. Large fridges across the
building offer refrigerated space for up to 30 people at a time and coffins
are stored on neat racking. There is a spacious washing area where families
or friends are welcome to come and help wash and dress their person
ready for their funeral. A small family and friends’ room is to one side of the
building, and this is where you can spend time with your person who has
died if you want to visit them. If you are thinking of using Poppy’s, then we
would urge you to ask to visit the mortuary – most people don’t, and the
staff would love to be able to show them the space where people in their
care are looked after – they are all proud of it.
As the business has grown it has needed to acquire a structure, and when
we visited in 2020 it was clear that this is a solid, professional business
growing on good foundations. Poppy herself is still involved in the business
as founder and chair, ensuring that as Poppy’s grows it continues to live up
to the values and standards she started. The day-to-day running of Poppy’s
is overseen by Clare Montagu as CEO, a highly experienced leader who was
previously Chief Operating Officer at Royal Trinity Hospice. Clare is
supported by a close-knit team of highly skilled mortuary staff, funeral
directors and client support advisors along with operational and marketing
colleagues who provide compassionate and practical support every step of
the way, seamlessly supporting clients throughout their contact with the
Poppy’s pride themselves on providing up-to-date, practical information on
their website and Talking Death blog to help people make the funeral
choices which are right for them.
If you want a traditional style black funeral with a hearse and limousines then Poppy’s can do that. Or if you want a simpler version with either the silver Ford Galaxy or the ‘Poppymobile’ (a decorated Mercedes Vito with a lovely hand made wooden deck) then that’s what you get. Or any variation in between. They will do whatever it is that you want. Their standard attire is either a smart plum coloured fleece with black trousers and shoes or black suits, though they will wear anything that a family wants them to. They’re very keen to encourage family involvement too – family members of any age, from 8 to 80, are welcome to carry the coffin if they want to and are encouraged to do so. Poppy’s also offer an stripped down ‘A to B’ service, transport only for families in Greater London wanting to organise a funeral without a funeral director but who need a little help with getting the body ‘from a to b’ on the day.
Everyone at Poppy’s has the same passion for down to earth, personal, professional service for the families that choose them. Everyone utterly believes in giving families whatever they want or need from a funeral, and they pride themselves on giving honest, straightforward advice – as much or as little as is needed. Overridingly, Poppy and all her team believe in caring for the dead people in their charge with gentle, careful hands and looking after them as if their families were standing beside them. Each dead person is called by name, there is no ‘deceased’ at Poppy’s, nor is there any embalming. Simple, natural and caring, completely professional yet totally human, the Poppy’s team brings a refreshing new approach to funerals that attracts admiration and respect from all they encounter.
Pretty much everything. The best way to see this is to look at their excellent website. If you like it, then Poppy’s Funerals is probably just right for you. If your reaction is different, then you’ll probably be better looking for another type of funeral director. Everyone at Poppy’s is very conscious that their way of approaching funerals is not for everyone, and would be completely unfazed if a family decided not to use their service after meeting them. They positively encourage clients to be sure they are comfortable with the way they work, nothing worries them more than a family not being completely happy with the funeral arrangements. They are fiercely proud of what they do and conscious of how incredibly important it is to get everything right, every time. They would much rather you went somewhere else than stayed with them and weren’t happy.
Poppy is very keen to spread the word about doing funerals differently, and takes education very seriously, providing myth busting / behind the scene talks for local healthcare professionals or anyone else who is interested. All of the team are encouraged to do this outreach work.
- Prices – useful estimator here
- Your first call will be answered by one of the Client Support Advisors – or whoever is nearest the phone (or whoever is on call if after hours).
- Home visits – Yes, totally happy to make arrangements either at your home or at their premises. Just tell them which you’d prefer. Arrangements can be made by video meeting rather than in person.
- Family participation – Absolutely yes – this is positively encouraged. As much participation as you want.
- Same sex person to wash and dress? Yes, no problem.
- Embalming – There is no embalming at all at Poppy’s. Bodies are left in their natural state with no invasive procedures.
- Ethnic specialism ‘We help anyone who wants our help. The only thing we don’t do is embalm but this has never got in the way of helping a specific ethnic group.’
- Home arranged funerals – Of course. Poppy’s are happy to act as a helping hand or consultant for families caring for their dead person at home and do so quite regularly.
- Local celebrants – In their experience choosing a celebrant is a very personal choice so they might suggest three to five and suggest the family call them to find someone they really connect with.
- Website – Superb. Good looking, reflecting completely the look, feel and values of the company. Prices clearly displayed.
- Client support – Extremely good. You will have one person taking care of your funeral arrangements throughout. E-mails and phone calls answered straight away, and for families needing a little more support the staff member looking after you will happily call you daily to make sure everything is proceeding as you want.
- Money matters – Very good value. The prices are clearly displayed to one side of the home page of the website so you can see at a glance the costs involved in the various options offered. There’s nothing hidden, and no up-selling. They provide only what you want and need, and believe everyone has the right to an affordable funeral.
- Parking – Absolutely loads of space to park. As you drive in the gates to Lambeth Cemetery Poppy’s offices are in the gatehouse on the right, and there is free parking on the roads inside the grounds.
This is a business with a huge heart. Not only do they give their clients unstinting support and encouragement, they truly believe that a meaningful, authentic, personal funeral has the power to change lives for the better, and they consider it their duty to try and achieve this for everyone that comes to them. Poppy Mardall has created a wonderful, ground-breaking new type of funeral directing in London, and her team of equally lovely people are passionately involved and completely devoted to what they are doing. Their aim is to change the world they operate in for the better, one funeral at a time. From what we saw, they are doing this every day. London is lucky to have them.
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.