We also run an award-winning life and death shop.

The only ‘Design your Life and Death’ shop in the UK, urbi et orbi is an internationally famous, award-winning celebration shop, watched over by Paula Rainey Crofts and Simon Dorgan.

Urbi et Orbi began life as Heaven on Earth, bespoke funeral arrangers and gift shop, in 1995 as a result of a misheard wish. Simon thought he heard me (Paula) say: “I want to open a ‘coffee’ shop”, but I had actually said “a ‘coffin’ shop”. It all stemmed from the idea to make my mother a chest in which to store her dancing shoes. Simon was a joiner, my mother had a lot of shoes, it was Christmas and she had everything! So we decided to make her a chest that could double up as a coffin. She seemed delighted! On the strength of this, word got around and we were asked by a friend to make another…..and so began the first ‘Design your Life and Death’ shop.

The shop moved to Upper Maudlin Street in 2000 and we decided to separate Urbi et Orbi from the funeral business, which still trades as Heaven on Earth (although the two are obviously still linked).

Our ’embodiment chests’, as we originally called them, could be used as pieces of furniture: coffee tables with the top inlaid with one of our reclaimed timber board games, linen chests, bookcases or CD, video and record units, and they could also be used as your coffin when the time came, thus reducing costs at the time of your funeral and enjoying the functionality of a piece of furniture while alive.

We were pleasantly surprised by the reaction to our embodiment chests. They sparked the imagination of many of our customers who bought them and are making good use of them while they are still alive. Whilst we initially intended to supply coffins for the living, we were soon asked to assist people in planning and carrying out funerals for family and friends. Many people were tired of the homogeneous ‘Victorian’ funeral currently on offer and wanted something more individual, and our innovative coffins and refreshing attitude to death attracted them. Since then our range of coffins has expanded and we have facilitated many funerals.

Established in 1995, winners of three major awards for “Best Funeral Shop” and for “Improving the Quality of Death and Dying”, our celebration shop sells a whole range of individual artefacts made both from our own workshop and from around the world to buy either as gifts for yourself, your family or a well-loved friend.

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