William Morris’s isolated country home and garden, a place which inspired many numbers of his most important designs, writings and ideas, is to be saved from dilapidation thanks to a £4.3m lottery grant.
Kelmscott Manor in the West Oxfordshire Cotswolds village of Kelmscott was the idyllic rural retreat of Morris, the hugely influential designer and polymath, from 1871 until his death in 1896 and it was a place he adored.
It was the thrushes stealing strawberries in its garden that led to his furnishing fabric Strawberry Thief and it was the wildflowers and trees he would see on country walks that inspired his wallpaper design, Willow Bough. His utopian novel, News from Nowhere, is set at a fictionalised Kelmscott.
The house has been owned since 1962 by the Society of Antiquaries of London, of which Morris was a fellow. Back then, the society took it over from Oxford University and effectively saved the place from ruin.
The history and feel of the house, as well as the flora and fauna in the garden and surrounding countryside, affected Morris in all manner of ways. It directly inspired his designs and writings but also influenced his world view: his socialism, for example, and his passion for preserving old buildings.