Funeral director: ‘There’s a lot of satisfaction in this job’
22 February, 2019 — By by Helen Chapman
A family business that has stood on the cobbled high street in Holborn since 1898 has witnessed changes in its trade for over seven generations.
Tom France (pictured below), 21, was made a director of A France and Son – a funeral services business in Lamb’s Conduit Street – six months ago. He runs it with his uncle, Michael France.
Tom said: “Cremation is huge now. Our takings are 70 per cent cremations now. We still do burials but prices have gone up at a similar rate to houses.
“Cremations are popular because they offer a more bespoke service – a more personal experience than at a graveside. You can have the music that your mother liked and everything like that. There are also many more humanist celebrants than there used to be.”
Tom’s great grandfather, Bunny France, ran the business until he retired when he was in his late 80s. Tom, who has worked there since he was 14 years old, said: “Bunny still rings up the place every day. He’s 92. He had also worked here since he was 14. “Lots of Holborn families come in here and ask about Bunny before making a funeral.
“The family used to live here. Downstairs, where they make the coffins, used to be where the kitchen was. Over time it’s changed from the family home.”
A France offers services including cremations, repatriations and burials, most taking place in Islington cemetery in East Finchley, Golders Green and in west London.
Tom added: “There is a big Italian community here in Clerkenwell. There’s St Peter’s Italian church down the road so we get a lot of repatriation services.
“There’s a lot of satisfaction in this job – that may surprise people. In such a difficult time, the fact that we can make that a bit easier is a nice thing.”