In 2005, British Arts & Crafts collector Edward Smith decided he’d like to combine his two loves—his family’s (retired) Sussex, England farmland and his collection of Arts & Crafts pottery, metalwork, textiles and furniture. In a clearing amongst the trees on his property, Smith has been creating a cemetery expressly for the remains of notable Arts & Crafts design pioneers.
Mr. Smith reasons that most of the original Arts & Crafts designers, English or otherwise, were motivated by political, ethical, or ideological considerations. For most of them, their aim was to create a craftsmanship set apart from the prevailing industrialized practices of the late Nineteenth Century. Wouldn’t these men wish to spend eternity in the company of similar, high-minded individuals—in a tranquil, natural environment, carefully crafted to Arts & Crafts ideals?
Interestingly, each family will be asked to design the headstone for its deceased relative—using signature aesthetic elements from each man’s work. For those families unequipped to carry-out such a task, historians from the Victoria & Albert Museum, in London, will assist in the modeling and, of course, seek family approval of the final design.
While Smith is careful to protect the identities of his future “occupants,” he claims to have had fruitful discussions with the descendants of William Morris, Charles Rennie MacIntosh, Josef Hoffman, Hector Guimard, and Gustav, Albert, Charles & Leopold Stickley. He is still in-discussion with the families of Antoni Gaudi, Victor Horta, Carlo Bugatti, and Frank Lloyd Wright.
The final resting place will be in a little clearing—sunny and flat—in a copse at the highest point on his farm. An Eighteenth Century farmhouse will be converted into a tasteful inn with attached museum and workshops were visitors may stay and participate in Arts & Crafts workshops taught by visiting craftsmen and instructors.
Perhaps, once it’s open to the public, it would be a nice place to spend an April Fool’s Day.