How and Where to Host a Wake

Posted on October 18th, 2023

Planning any sort of event can be stressful, and should you find yourself tasked with making arrangements for a loved one’s funeral, and/or wake, it can be difficult to know where to start and what the best choices to make will be.

At Freedom Funerals we believe that there is no right or wrong way to celebrate the life of someone you have lost and we are dedicated to helping you say farewell to your loved one in a way that feels right to you – whether that’s a traditional funeral, a green burial service or a modest direct cremation and whether or not you choose to hold a gathering for family and friends.

If you do wish and intend to plan a wake as part of a memorial for a loved one that has passed away, read on for some guidance including a select few options of locations to hold a wake in Colchester and the surrounding area. Please feel free to get in touch with our team for further guidance on 01206 862 963 – we’re here to help.

What is a wake?

A wake may sometimes be known as a funeral reception and is an occasion, usually taking place after a funeral or memorial service, where the family and/or friends of the deceased gather together to pay their respects to the person who has passed away.

What happens at a wake, if you choose to arrange one, is up to you and may depend on how you prefer to mark and celebrate your loved one’s life, as well as practicalities like budget, numbers of guests (and whether it is a private or public occasion), location and more. This may be quite informal and open if you wish, allowing guests a chance to socialise, catch up, and share memories and stories of the deceased – or may take the form of further readings, talks or activities. It may be a small gathering of family or close friends in a local pub, to share a meal and talk about the lost loved one, it may be out in nature, or a larger or more formal affair in an events venue.

You may wish to include specific or special elements that meant something to the person that passed away – perhaps the planting of a tree or flowers, sharing of photos or videos, visiting a favourite location or walking trail, raising a toast of a certain tipple – a wake can be whatever feels right for you and your family and friends.

Where can I host a wake?

You may host a wake where you wish, at any venue of your choosing that offers the services you require, which again depends on what you want the occasion to be. Smaller or informal gatherings may take place without a specific event booking, for example, at a favourite pub, restaurant or park, or within a family member’s home or garden.

Many party or event venues will offer rates for booked wakes or may simply provide the space or catering you require to host the occasion and extend a wider invitation to friends and family – and many venues can also assist with catering options and packages if you require.

Wake Locations near Colchester

Below you can find a small selection of venues, within the Colchester area, offering funeral reception facilities and packages. Note that the details stated are correct at time of writing.

Starlight Tea Chapel

A de-commissioned chapel located on site at Colchester Cemetery and Crematorium, the Starlight Tea Chapel is a characterful Grade II listed building functioning as a tea room ‘by day’ and offers a serene location for quiet, low-key wakes and celebrations of life in peaceful natural surroundings.

Parking is free on the Cemetery site, which also benefits from good public transport connections.

Room hire packages are dependent on your specific dates and timings; the Chapel’s four catering and refreshment packages start at £7.25 per person and can be adapted for a small fee.

Click for information about the Starlight Tea Chapel.

The Colchester Officer’s Club

A private members’ club within the heart of Colchester, yet enjoying beautiful and secluded grounds, the Colchester Officer’s Club is just a 5-minute drive from Colchester Cemetery and Crematorium and is less than half an hour from Weeley Crematorium.

This venue offers a range of spaces available to hire for functions, including funeral receptions, and can accommodate up for 150 guests, with smaller rooms available for more intimate gatherings. Catering packages are from £14 per head, with menus that can be adapted for individual needs if required (note that outside catering cannot be served at the club), and the venue is equipped with AV functionality for events. Parking is ample and the club is a short walk from the nearest public transport stops.

Click here to learn more about The Colchester Officer’s Club.

The Rose and Crown, Colchester

The Rose and Crown is based on East Street in Colchester, less than a 10-minute drive from Colchester Cemetery and Crematorium, and less than 20 minutes from Weeley Crematorium.

Venue hire is free for funeral receptions, with various rooms available (as well as the gardens) to allow for small gatherings or up to 160 guests. Catering packages are also on offer, from £19.95 per person, including tea and coffee, and the venue benefits from AV equipment as required, (limited) free parking and great public transport links, as well as accommodation available at discounted rates for those attending a reception on site.

Click here to find out more about The Rose and Crown.

The Old Siege House Bar and Brasserie

Also located less than 10 minutes from Colchester Cemetery and Crematorium, The Old Siege House Bar and Brasserie building dates back to the 15th century and is full of history. As well as a location for intimate dining, this venue can also accommodate private gatherings with facilities to cater for up to 140 guests. Speak to the team directly about food options and catering package pricing.

Located on East Street, Colchester, the venue is easily accessible via public transport (approximately 5 minutes’ walk from the nearest bus stop) but also offers free parking on site.

Click to find out more about The Old Siege House Bar and Brasserie.

We are dedicated to helping to make the difficult task of saying goodbye to your loved ones that bit easier – and we’re here for you during this emotional time, to assist with funeral planning, wakes and more. Get in touch with our dedicated, caring team on 01206 862 963 or email us on