Funeral Blog: Why do funeral processions travel so slowly?
You will be amazed at just how much of the present day funeral that we know, is steeped in Victorian tradition. Nearly all of it, in fact. However, one question I have been asked on more than one occasion is: 'Why do you guys drive so slowly!?" There are two main reasons -
An obvious point - the roads are busy... Shockingly, it is a common occurrence for other road users to try and force their way in between a hearse and limousine during busy hours or due to ignorance. To try and combat this, chauffeurs have become pretty good at staying relatively close to the vehicle in front, hopefully deterring another car from rudely bullying their way in while the chauffeur driver has to summon all of his inner strength to hold his tongue! Families however, often let the other drivers know that they have stepped out of line and will definitely NOT hold their tongue... which always makes us smile.
We also think it looks neater, tidier and smoother, keeping families closer together throughout the procession.
But mostly, the reason is (as often returns to) …
In Victorian Britain, there were no large London based cemeteries as there are now, and there were no council-run cemeteries either. In the event of someone passing away, the funeral would always take place in the local church with a burial to follow. As there were, obviously, no vehicles, the coffin would be transferred on a horse-pulled 'wheeled bier' from the deceased's address to the local church while family, friends and community would follow behind. During the colder seasons the funerals would often be in relative darkness, forcing families to carry candles along the way within the procession. Naturally, while walking with a candle, they would have to protect the flame from blowing out on the dark Victorian streets, so would walk slowly. And that is the traditional reason why we drive slowly.
Below, a Victorian hand-pulled wheeled bier.