The Society, a registered charity, not conducted for profit, was established in 1874. It is the pioneer of cremation in Great Britain and built and operated the very first crematorium for public use, in 1885 in Woking, Surrey.
Since the Society's formation it has worked tirelessly to promote and establish the practice of cremation among all members of the community. It has aided both private enterprise and local authorities in the setting up of new crematoria and has pressed the Government departments concerned for developments in the law so that this rational, safe and dignified method of disposal of the dead might be practiced with the least possible restriction.
The Society was responsible for drawing up the forms of certification for cremation and these were later adopted as the basis for the first Cremation Act in 1902. As a direct result of its activities cremation now accounts for approximately 78% of all funerals in the British Islands.
In 2008, the Society amended its Memorandum and Articles of Association to allow it to promote other methods of dealing with dead bodies, in particular Resomation which the Society regards as a viable adjunct to cremation due to its number of environmental advantages.