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Memorial benches and 9 other public tributes to a loved one

A montage of ways to memorialise a loved one, including a bench, pier, fingerpost, theatre seat and vintage fairground

Not everyone can have a street named or statue dedicated to them when they die, but there are many other ways for a loved one’s name to live on in the heart of the community.

Here are 10 ideas and lovely ways to commemorate someone special – dedicate a lasting public tribute to them in a special location that other people will also enjoy.

1. A memorial bench

A memorial bench with a plaque in front of a green yew hedge Photo by Hal Ozart on Unsplash

Memorial benches with a plaque or inscription are a familiar sight in towns and villages, coastal paths, parks and botanic gardens. They are a popular way to remember a loved one, or someone valued by the community. These can cost from a few hundred pounds to a few thousand, depending on their location and upkeep, usually for a set number of years. Most local councils provide details about how to apply to dedicate a memorial bench for someone.

Birmingham’s beautiful Botanic Gardens is among the popular visitor destinations to have a dedication scheme, where placing a memorial bench in a tranquil spot in the grounds costs £2,500.

2. A theatre seat in memory

a theatre auditorium with plush red seats

Whether they loved Shakespeare, ballet, panto, or trod the boards themselves, a theatre seat dedicated in memory of your loved one might be just the ticket. Many arts venues offer the opportunity for people to sponsor a seat with a commemorative plaque in someone’s name.

Dedicating a theatre seat doesn’t include free tickets to shows, but is a lovely way to remember someone who lived for the arts. The Theatre Royal Norwich is among venues to have a seat-naming scheme, which includes a memorial plaque. The cost is £250, which you can opt to pay in monthly instalments.

3. A fairground memorial

detail of a colourful vintahe merry-go-round

Dingles Heritage Fairground Centre in Devon is one of the UK’s most colourful and unusual attractions, with a host of superb vintage funfair rides and sideshows under its roof to enjoy.

It’s currently expanding the home of its ride-on exhibits, with the opportunity for people to memorialise a loved one’s name in a Walk of Fame brick.

Prices start at £50 for a memorial stone that will become a part of the charitably-run museum’s fabric.

4. A family tree memorial

the visitor centre at the National Memorial Arboretum

The National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire has more than 350 memorials to those who served in its beautiful 150-acre parkland. Bereavement organisations including The Donor Family Network have also raised funds to build memorials at the NMA, which says it has space to accommodate many more.

On an individual level, it has sponsorship scheme to dedicate a tree or bench in special memory of someone and encourages you to get in touch for further information.

5. A walk in the woods in someone’s memory

A family walking in woodlands

The Woodland Trust also offers the opportunity to dedicate a tree in someone’s memory – in fact, you can dedicate an entire wood.

The conservation’s charity, which manages and protects woodlands across the UK, has an In Memory sponsorship scheme through which you can choose a tree in one of 50 woods from £15, or upwards of an acre from £250.

6. A memorial besides the sea

Southwold Pier ona  summer day

If they did like to be beside the seaside, a memorial bench or tribute by the coast might be appropriate.

On beautiful Southwold Pier in Suffolk, you can have a memorial plaque inscribed with your loved one’s name, affixed to the pier railings overlooking the sea. Prices begin at £195 for a spot on the north side of the historic seaside attraction.

7. Dedicated football fans

A football on a pitch

Many football clubs offer fans the chance to set their loyalty in stone. Memorial stones at Liverpool FC’s newly landscaped area of its expanded stand quickly sold out, but smaller clubs also offer the chance for fans to become part of the FC’s fabric.

Among them, Maidenhead United is offering the opportunity to sponsor a seat in its new stand. It costs £100 and includes a commemorative plaque engraved with a dedication.

8. A heavenly reminder

The City Observatory in Edinburgh

A number of companies offer the fun opportunity to name a star after a loved one. The International Astronomical Union is the global scientific organisation which officially names stars and planets – and it doesn’t have a star adoption scheme.

So if your loved one was a star-gazer, playing a part in an ongoing scheme to restore Edinburgh’s City Observatory may be a thoughtful memorial gift to consider. Whether you have £25 or £50,000 to spend, you can donate in memory to cover the cost of a single brick, through to sponsoring the renovation of observatory’s entire domed roof and library.

9. Adopt a book in memory

Antique books

A donation in a book-lover’s name can help preserve historic and special books to be found in libraries, universities and reading rooms around the country. Among them is Exeter Library in Devon, which has an adopt-a-book scheme to repair and conserve precious literature.

Its scheme offers the opportunity to choose a specific book to adopt, with titles including The Philosophical Principles of the Science of Brewing, dating back to 1798 and a prized copy of antiquarian E. A. Wallis Budge’s 1895 translation of the Egyptian Book of the Dead.

10. A fingerpost memorial

A fingerpost pointing the way in a rural Lake District location

The Lake District is one of the most beautiful places in the world to walk and there are opportunities to memorialise a rambler, in the famous national park.

A fingerpost will point walkers in the right direction, which you can dedicate with a memorial plaque commemorating your loved one, from £250. You can also opt to sponsor and dedicate a stile, gate, or even a bridge in a Lake District beauty spot.