With its bewildering array of intricate prints, wallpaper and curtains, Kelmscott Manor is about to become a place of pilgrimage for fans of William Morris. The pioneering designer, poet and socialist owned the house for more than 20 years, describing it as ‘heaven on earth’. Now, after a £6 million renovation project, the farmhouse in Oxfordshire is reopening to the public.
The building dates all the way back to 1600, when it was occupied by a working farmer. Two and a half centuries later, Morris and his family of course redesigned much of the current interior themselves, covering it with homely art and vast tapestries. In the bedroom, guests will be able to survey the artist’s collection of Albrecht Dürer prints, plus many of his original books.
William Morris never lived at Kelmscott permanently, but used it as his country escape from his home in Walthamstow, London. Other members of the Arts and Crafts movement visited – he initially leased the property with Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who painted ‘Water Willow’ here – and he named his book printing venture Kelmscott Press after the house. It features heavily in his fiction work, ‘News from Nowhere’, too.
The property is now owned by the Society of Antiquaries of London. It was funded by both the National Lottery and the Kelmscott Manor: Past Present & Future campaign, which continues to raisefunds.
The house opened to the public on April 1. Tickets start at £12.50 – and you find out more here.
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