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The Undertaker at Work by Brian Parsons London Cemeteries: an illustrated guide and gazeteer by Hugh Mellor and Brian Parsons The Glades of Remembrance, Brookwood Cemetery by Brian Parsons, Erkin Guney and John Clarke The London Way of Death by Brian Parsons J H Kenyon: the first 125 years by Brian Parsons
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Committed to the Cleansing Flame by Brian Parsons From Brooke Street to Brookwood Brian Parsons Bunny France Frederick W Paine: the first 125 years by Brian Parsons State Funeral of Sir Winston Churchill

Welcome to Brian Parsons’ Website

Brian Parsons

Photo courtesy Richmond Local History Society

Hello, and welcome to my website.

I work freelance providing a training, consultancy and research service under the banner of Funeral Service Training (London).

My website provides further information about me, my publications and my lectures. Links to all of these can be found above.

Meanwhile, you can contact me by emailing info@brianparsons.org.uk

My New Book: The Evolution of the British Funeral Industry in the 20th Century

The Evolution of the British Funeral Industry in the 20th century by Brian ParsonsThe Evolution of the British Funeral Industry in the 20th Century examines the shifts that have taken place in the funeral industry since 1900, focusing on the figure of the undertaker and exploring how organizational change and attempts to gain recognition as a professional service provider saw the role morph into that of ‘funeral director’. As the disposal of the dead increased in complexity during the twentieth century, the role of the undertaker / funeral director has mirrored this change. Whilst the undertaker of 1900 primarily encoffined and transported the body, today’s funeral director provides other services, such as taking responsibility for the body of the deceased and embalming, and has overseen changes such as the increasing preference for cremation, the impact of technology on the production of coffins and the shift to motorized transport. These factors, together with the problem of succession for some family-run funeral businesses, have led large organizations to make acquisitions and manage funerals on a centralized basis, achieving economies of scale. This book examines how the occupation has sought to reposition itself and how the funeral director has become an essential functionary in funerary practices. However, despite striving for new-found status the role is hindered by two key issues: the stigma of handling the dead, and the perception of making a profit from loss.

Part of the series Emerald Studies in Death and Culture edited by Dr Ruth Penfold-Mounce, University of York, UK, Dr Julie Rugg, University of York, UK, Dr Jack Denham, York St John University, UK.

Available now ISBN 9781 7874 36305   Price £60.00

Forthcoming Lectures


Lectures on the History of Funeral Service at F W Paine Kingston

A poster for these lectures can be downloaded here


Tuesday 22 May 2018

 The History of FW Paine

(Brian Parsons)

Tuesday 19 June 2018

‘The Brookwood Necropolis Railway’

(John Clarke)

Tuesday 10 July 2018

London and the Spanish Flu

(Brian Parsons)

For further details please call Sue on 0208 547 1556


Forthcoming Publications

From Undertaker to Funeral Director - A full-length study tracing the development of the British Funeral Industry during the twentieth century. Due for publication in 2018.

London Cemeteries in Old Photographs. Due for publication in 2018

Current Research & Articles in Preparation

* Funeral Directors and the 1977 Strike

* The Transportation of Coffins by Rail

You can contact me by emailing info@brianparsons.org.uk

W. S. Bond Funeral Directors: A Brief History

By Brian Parsons

W S Bond Funeral Directors

Paperback, with 20 pages, and profusely illustrated with black and white and colour illustrations

Published by Dignity.

Price: Free

Copies are available direct from

Brian Parsons - please contact me for further details.

Further information …