© This Month - December

There is no lecture in December. The lecture season resumes in January at King Henry VIII school hall.

The following article can also be seen in the December edition of the Abergavenny Focus   

Heaven on Earth
Kelmscott Manor was the summer retreat and inspiration for William Morris, the craftsman and textile designer. Helen Morgan reports:
Red House in Bexleyheath is the house to view William Morris’s architectural legacy but Kelmscott is the place to enjoy his furniture and furnishings in a domestic setting. This farmhouse near Lechlade was built in 1600 for a yeoman farmer, Thomas Turner, but by 1869 his descendants had no need for it.  In 1871 they rented it to Morris and the Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti.  The 17th-century oak furniture came from the Turners but Morris  soon filled the manor with textiles that he and his Arts & Crafts friends had designed. He taught himself how to weave tapestries, many of which are on the walls, and designed carpets. The bed hangings were designed by his daughter May and worked by the Morris & Co embroidery department of which she was appointed Director in 1885.
The high-backed rush-seated chairs throughout the house were designed by Philip Webb, Rossetti and Ford Madox Brown. Webb also designed the hooded settle for William and Jane Morris when they married, and the design became a best seller for Morris & Co. Jane chose the Swan and Artichoke tiles for the fireplace in the Green Room in 1873, Rossetti’s pastel portraits of the Morris daughters when aged 9 and 10 adorn the walls in the White Room and, to add to the feel of Kelmscott as a family home, William’s coat is still hanging on the back of a door.
With its gardens, barns, dovecote, a meadow and stream, Kelmscott was in his words “a heaven on earth”. It provided a constant source of inspiration for patterns based on plants, flowers and animals such as Willow bough with which he decorated the walls and draperies in Jane’s room. The gardener, it is said, was under orders to leave the birds alone — which almost certainly inspired  the Strawberry Thief —  another  iconic Morris design. When William died in 1896, many possessions from the family’s main home in Hammersmith were brought to Kelmscott Manor which the family continued to rent until 1913 when Jane was finally able to buy it. It is now owned by the Society of Antiquaries of London.
A visit to Lechlade and Kelmscott Manor on July 25 is part of the history society’s 2019 summer visits programme.


Abergavenny Local History Society 
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