By Tyler Ody
Kelmscott Manor - previously the iconic country home of William Morris - is open to the public from April - October.
Kelmscott Manor was the country home of William Morris, poet, designer, craftsman, socialist and founding father of the Arts and Crafts movement.
This Grade I Listed house was said to have been loved by Morris as a survival of traditional craftsmanship in harmony with the nearby village and surrounding landscape, which lies towards the very upper reaches of the Thames, inspiring many of his most important designs and writings, including the world-famous Willow pattern.
Today, visitors will find an outstanding collection, from early 17th Century furniture to a unique collection of furnishings chosen by Pre-Raphaelite painter-poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti and pieces from each of Morris’ London homes, including several designed especially for the iconic Red House.
Morris’ wife Jane and daughter May also have a vivid presences at Kelmscott Manor.
Many examples reflect their beautiful and accomplished needlework; much of this was designed by May, a significant and accomplished designer in her own right.
The Manor has so many intriguing stories to tell; its collections span over 300 years and reflect the lives, ideas and creative legacy of those who lived and stayed there.
Perhaps the most famous portrait of Jane Morris by Rossetti is The Blue Silk Dress which was completed in 1868, currently hanging in the White Room.
The domestic charm and ambience of the house is still retained, despite having influenced Pre-Raphaelite art and design and the Arts & Crafts Movement, a legacy still very much treasured today.
Kelmscott Manor also boasts enchanting riverside gardens and the River Thames is located just a few hundred yards away.
Beyond the walls of the formal garden stand the impressive farm barns – two of them house the tearoom and shop. The tearoom is said to be a must-visit, with its friendly staff and home-made meals and cakes, while the shop is packed with decorative and unusual items ideal for gifts or mementoes.
After major restoration and improvement works, the team are looking forward to welcoming visitors back to Morris’ “heaven on earth”.
The Manor is open to the public from Thursday to Saturday, April to October.
People can visit www.sal.org.uk/kelmscottmanor.org.uk for more details and to book tickets.