Our Story

An Independent Family Business - We Care

Photo above: Ray & Shirley with Mayor Frank Barton, opening the first funeral home in King's Lynn - early 1984

Ray Thornalley founded Thornalley Funeral Services on the 1st April 1981. At the age of 24 and working for a local builder and undertaker as a carpenter and joiner, the opportunity arose for Ray to start his own funeral business at Station Road, Clenchwarton.

One year later Ray and Shirley were married and together they purchased 53 St James Street, King’s Lynn where they converted a Newsagent shop into a small Funeral Home. In 1988 they purchased the adjoining property at 51 St James Street, where alterations were made to make the two properties into one.

Meanwhile, Ray and Shirley had two children, Andrew and Rachel. Eager to follow in his father’s footsteps, Andrew spent his adolescent years helping in the funeral business whenever he could during the school holidays, washing cars and preparing coffins, before finishing school on the Friday and joining his father full time on the following Monday!

In 1997, Roly Whitear approached us to take over R.E.Whitear in Tilney St Lawrence. Roly was the local village funeral director and we kept his Chapel of Rest open for several years. In 1999, Thornalley Funeral Services expanded into 55 St James Street. Major building work took place to make the three properties into one Funeral Home. Thornalley Funeral Services continued to grow and eventually the opportunity arose to build a purpose-built Funeral Home in Austin Street, King’s Lynn. After much work the new Funeral Home was opened on 4th February 2011 and continues to strive to deliver the best care and service possible to bereaved families in and around the King’s Lynn area. In 2012, Andrew’s wife Abi joined the business to work alongside Shirley.

Thornalley Funeral Services broadened their roots in 2016 when they bought Chapmans Funeral Services in Swaffham and carried out extensive refurbishments to the premises. In 2022 a further opportunity arose to purchase Ashdene House in Dersingham, formerly a bed & breakfast business, which the Thornalley family has converted into a Funeral Home to serve Dersingham and the surrounding area. All three Funeral Homes run as one big, friendly family, upholding the traditional values of respect and dignity. Two generations of the family have already dedicated their lives to providing a professional yet personal service that is second to none and now a third generation of Thornalley Funeral Services is on the horizon as Andrew and Abi’s two sons are both waiting in the wings desperate to follow in their dad and papa’s footsteps!

Ray Thornalley with his first hearse - 1981


Excellent service from start to finish, very professional friendly staff. As this was the first funeral I’ve had to arrange I was unsure of what to do, I was guided through everything with ease and everything went smoothly.

Roslyn Williams