Bennetts Funeral Directors and Undertaker Services

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The history of the Horse Drawn Hearse for a Funeral Service in Chelmsford

Funeral services in Chelmsford

The horse-drawn hearse dates all the way back to the 17th century. Although the vehicle was originally used for transportation, it eventually evolved into becoming an icon for funerals. The glass sided hearse was particularly popular as people were always anxious to view the coffin and no Victorian funeral would have been complete without horses adorned with black plumes pulling the black hearse carriage, through the streets. However, with the hire cost of these in 1887 being £100 (a working mans annual salary was about £20) a handcart or bier-cart carried by 2-4 men was the most common form of transport for a coffin costing around £5.
In the late 1940’s the horse drawn hearse, used as a form of funeral transport almost died out, however, their absence was only brief and by the 1950’s they were as popular as ever.

Interesting Victorian fact: More plumes more money!
Did you know that a hearse and horses laden with ostrich plumes were indicative of a persons wealth?

  • Poor people did not deserve plumes at all
  • 2 plumes meant that the deceased was of modest means
  • 3-4 plumes said that you were well off
  • 5-6 told everyone that you were wealthy
  • 7 plumes were reserved for the truly rich!

Bennett’s Funeral Services for Chelmsford offer a fabulous selection of classic funeral vehicles and alternative funeral transport such as our 4X4 Land Rover Defender, but our stunning horse drawn hearse has got to be one of the most beautiful sights to behold!

The horse drawn hearse for funeral services in Chelmsford

Our horse drawn hearse and carriage service was re-introduced in the 1980’s and has been the first choice for many clients when arranging a funeral service in Chelmsford. The horse drawn carriage we use is an original Landau built in Scotland in 1860. Purchased in 2002, we have worked hard to restore it to its current pristine condition and coupled with our beautiful Dutch Friesian Horses (more commonly known as Belgian Blacks) it creates a simply stunning end result, complete with plumes, guaranteed to stop the traffic and provide a good ‘send-off’.

If you would like to know more about our horse drawn hearse service or any of our beautiful classic and modern vehicles for a Chelmsford funeral service then please don’t hesitate to contact us.