Richard Steel & Partners

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Funeral Directors Category: South East England

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  • The Steel family have been serving Winchester and the wider Hampshire community for four generations since 1860. They are proud to be the longest established private business in the City to remain in the same family ownership. Each generation has dedicated themselves to helping the City, both professionally and through charitable and community involvement.

    Steel’s were one of the earliest members of the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) and has, for the last 50 years been proud to have also been amongst a select group of UK Funeral Directors to be invited to join the internationally recognised Selected Independent Funeral Homes (SIFH).

    Managing Director Iain Steel is the 4th generation of the Steel’s family to lead the business and maintaining the tradition of offering the very best experience for bereaved families and dignified services for the deceased. Iain joined the family firm at age 20 and over the last 30 years has built strong relationships with a large number families across Winchester and the surrounding communities.

    Iain is ably assisted in this aim by a dedicated team, all of whom take great pride in offering unrivalled service levels to each and every client. It is Iain’s firm belief that each individual Funeral Director should be trained to the highest standard and he insists his funeral directors achieve their Funeral Directing Diploma through the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD). Amongst his involvements with the NAFD, Iain spent nearly 20 years as a national examiner for these industry standard qualifications.

    Moreover, always mindful of the pain that the grieving families are often experiencing at this time, the Steel’s approach to creating the very best client service is to ensure the greatest levels of service relationship continuity. In practical terms this means that whomever the client first speaks to will remain the primary contact point and be the person who looks after them throughout the entire funeral process.

    There is a definite recognition at Steel’s that the uniqueness of each individual life should be reflected in each individual funeral. Therefore, creating a bespoke funeral that reflects and celebrates the life of the deceased, as well as how the family and/or friends wish to pay their respects is the aim of the team.

    This needn’t mean spending the earth to celebrate the passing of a loved one, and the team at Steel’s work with their clients to ensure that financial budgets are established and considered throughout.

    The central Winchester premises at Alderman House (named in memory of the late Stanley Steel, who led the business and also twice served as Mayor of the City), is conveniently located and has ample off road parking.

    Steel’s also have exclusive use of the Chesil House, an exquisite venue for funerals and services on the banks of the River Itchen.

    The original home of the Steel funeral business in Winchester, Chesil House is a 19th century building on the banks of the River Itchen. For four generations, Chesil House has been owned and occupied by the Steel family and until 2004 the funeral business was entirely run from here before it expanded to Alderman House.

    Chesil House has undergone a huge refurbishment – something that was no mean feat in a listed building- and has now been tastefully and sympathetically transformed.  The vision that was once in Iain’s head has been beautifully and skilfully interpreted by the architect and the building team, and the results are breathtaking. Chesil House is now a fully licensed venue equalling any other in the area, suitable not only for funerals but for weddings, conferences or any other gatherings. It has state of the art audio visual technology, resident caterers and a fully equipped kitchen – everything that you’d need to host a memorable event. https://www.chesilhouse.com/

    The building is accessed through the wonderful Victorian frontage on the historic Chesil Street. Downstairs, a gathering space with comfortable sofas looks out to the cloister and lawned gardens. Beyond this is a beautiful oak staircase leading up to The Chesil Suite with a stunning modern pendant light feature. Close by on the ground floor the doors open into the Garden Room, an intimate space that can be used for small funerals or events. It has a screen for photos and a simple music system, and huge picture windows opening on to the stunning walled garden and private tributary that runs up to and under the room.

    The Chesil Suite on the first floor consists of three beautifully appointed spaces, flooded with light from windows in the high ceilings. In the main space around 100 people can be seated for a ceremony, with the coffin laying on a bespoke wooden platform beneath a screen displaying photos or slideshows. Four cameras around the room can record the ceremony, streaming the proceedings live for anyone unable to attend. Footage is then edited into a film recording for the family if they would like a copy. the state of the art audio visual equipment is capably operated discretely at the back of the room by Kris, who manages Chesil House.

    The River View Room is adjacent and a perfect space for receptions following ceremonies, with views over the fast-flowing river below. Enormous folding doors that open onto South facing Deck, the new outdoor space with glass balustrades overlooking the garden and the river.

    Resident award-winning caterers, The Little Kitchen Company can provide refreshments from drinks and canapés, afternoon tea or a hot and cold buffet, offering families the opportunity to hold both the ceremony and the reception in one place, right in the heart of Winchester.

    The new facilities offer complete flexibility, for example, families can hold a funeral ceremony on a day and at a time to suit them rather than needing to fit in with a booking at the crematorium. The coffin can then be transferred to the crematorium for a private committal at a later point. The new space also provides families with additional time without the pressure of being at a busy crematorium. Cost-wise, it works out about the same to hire the Chesil Suite for the ceremony and have a private cremation afterwards as it would do to hold the ceremony at the crematorium.

    The memorial garden was carefully protected during the building works, with the builders having to find alternative access and support for their scaffolding as they carried out the refurbishment. It was essential to retain the peace and tranquillity of the garden as much as possible even while the interior was being completely transformed, it is a sacred space for many, and Iain and the staff are very aware of their duties as custodians.

    Specific Gravity

    Exceptional quality of personal service. Steels have a high reputation locally and it is clearly well deserved. Their standards are impeccable. Their focus is on delivering the very best, every time, for every family, and the imbued values inherited from the past have been married with a keen eye for any adjustments that can be made to improve their service to you.

    One would expect this level of quality to come at a price, but the costs here are fair and reasonable.

    What’s Important?

    Your experience. Little details make all the difference. When Steels staff come to collect someone who has died, they are dressed in smart blue lounge suits rather than undertaker garb of black jacket and striped trousers. They look like human beings rather than strange visitors in unnatural garb. And they use a smart silver MVP, not a van to take the person back to their premises.

    Every coffin is lined in such a way that the edges are covered with padded fabric – when visiting a relative in the chapel of rest, you instinctively approach the coffin and put your hand on it – here you will feel soft, comfy material rather than a wooden coffin edge.

    They produce their own in house orders of service for you, designed and laid out individually.

    And they don’t ask you to pay money in advance. As Iain says, “We’ve been in business for over 150 years and we work on trust. People understand that and respect it.”

    What’s Different?

    The combination of tradition and modernity. The values that have served families of Winchester and the surrounding areas for generations are still upheld, the notion of service and unobtrusive support underpin this business, but are combined with a determination to stay abreast of changes in the way we want our funerals to be.

    If you want a direct cremation that’s fine, Steels will do that for you and you can be sure they will do it perfectly, always providing a hearse and bearers. Behind the scenes, they are as professional as when all eyes are on them at a funeral ceremony. There are no corners cut here, ever.

    There is also a strong sense of community and responsibility. Local nursing homes regularly send their staff to Steels to participate in their ‘Bereavement – Continuing the Care’ training, where carers learn what happens to a person after they leave their care.

    Services

     Your first call will be answered after hours by Iain, John, David, Bob, Chelsea or Russ. During the day it may be one of the long serving administrative staff, but they will pass you to a funeral director.

    • Home visits – yes if that’s what you want (subject to any restrictions)
    • Same sex person to wash and dress?Yes, just ask.
    • Embalming? Steels are advocates of embalming, they believe it is beneficial to viewing the person who has died, however a family can decline this option.
    • Ethnic specialism? Winchester is not known for its ethnic diversity but Steels will always help any family that comes to them – they may ask for guidance to ensure that a family receives the help that they need that is culturally appropriate.
    • Home arranged funerals – of course. You can have as much advice or assistance as you need.
    • Local celebrants – A few hand-picked excellent local celebrants who they trust completely, otherwise Steel’s have a very good relationship with local clergy. They will suggest the person they think is right for you.
    • Website– Good, comprehensive website with details of upcoming funerals, online memorials and some prices.
    • Client support – Extremely important. Both Richard and Chelsea are Officers of Winchester Bereavement Support and the company sponsors the charity. A leaflet is included in every client information pack.
    • Money matters – Good value for money. If you have a tight budget, tell them. They will tailor the funeral to suit you.
    • Parking– Parking on the forecourt at Alderman House. At Chesil House there is a Pay and Display car park over the road, with some parking available in the courtyard in the centenaries of the building.

    Remarks

    Steels is a rare thing in the funeral world, a business that is so well established and highly thought of locally that other funeral directors don’t bother attempting to open a branch in competition with them.

    Having spent several days with them over the years, we can see why. Their standards are extremely high, they have invested heavily in continually improving the service they offer, and they are extraordinarily nice people. The people of Winchester are fortunate to have Steels at their service.

     

    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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