My summer (varying between hot and soggy) has mostly been spent in my garden trying to restore some semblance of order - and very nice it's been too! Now and again we've trundled off for a visit to somewhere interesting and inspiring which I have to say does whet the 'miniature' appetite. Kelmscott Manor in the village of Kelmscott near Lechlade in West Oxfordshire was the country home of William Morris and is just such a place.
For anyone interested in the Arts and Crafts Movement it is definitely a 'go to'!
Kelmscott itself is a delightful little village off the beaten track close by the river Thames, with beautiful cottages, village hall and medieval church. The Society of Antiquities of London acquired the Manor in 1960s and to their huge credit have restored and furnished the property in the most sympathetic and exemplary manner. So many of the furnishings, be they furniture or tapestries, embroideries, ceramics or printed works were collected and placed there by Morris's family so that there is an absolute sense of the man, his colleagues, family, friends and his times.
Very generously photography is allowed, although no flash. Regretfully I couldn't seem to get my camera to understand this flash thingy so I limited myself to outside pictures of the manor itself - which is a late C16th early C17th gem. However if you love this period or are interested in William Morris, his family, friends and colleagues, do go to the website for a real treat and many pictures of his work and the interiors of the property.
We came away so inspired and also learnt so much of his versatility and that of his family. For instance, the wonderful Morris design for 'Honeysuckle' - used in wallpaper and fabrics surprised me that it was actually a design by his daughter May and we were all struck by the amount of design work carried out and inspired by him that was undertaken by his wife and daughters who were immensely talented ladies. I do wish I'd taken a photo of the fantastic three-seater privy, outside which is a garden full of strawberries....there is a wonderful story that he sat there and watched a thrush stealing his strawberries, which inspired his 'Strawberry Thief' design!
I must ask Celia if she took one.
The road to the Manor is bordered by willow trees so it it easy to see where his inspiration for that design came from, and the short walk through the village from the car park is lovely.
A unique specially designed stone slab fence alongside fields is stunning.
He was a man who inspired and encouraged others, and was also influenced by them. He and his family commissioned work by other artists and artisans and were influential in setting up a number of important businesses, groups and organisations. After his death his wife and family arranged for the building of the village hall and two cottages designed by Webb and Gimson to commemorate him. The beautiful carved stone relief on a cottage is a tribute to the man himself.
The Morris family are buried in the village churchyard - commemorated by a beautifully designed tombstone by Philip Webb. The C11th Church of St George is itself very special and is justly proud of the restoration of the medieval wall paintings, and well worth a visit.
The three of us had a wonderful day - I hope you have had some good times lately as well, there is so much that others are having to endure on the other side of the world at this time.
Thank you for looking