September 12, 2022
Kelmscott Manor, an Arts & Crafts House in the Cotswolds
Kelmscott Manor, the country home of the Victorian designer, poet and socialist William Morris, is an iconic Arts & Crafts house-museum and garden in the Cotswolds. Kelmscott is a must for travelers interested in the decorative arts, the Arts & Crafts movement, interiors, and historic homes and gardens. Artisans of Leisure can incorporate private excursions to Kelmscott Manor on any of our luxury England tours.
Morris, a pioneer of the Arts & Crafts movement in England, leased the house with his friend the Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti in 1871. The gabled Tudor-era farmhouse of warm Cotswolds stone in an idyllic riverside setting resonated with his post-industrialist ideals of beauty and simplicity of design, traditional craftsmanship and of man living in harmony with the natural world.
After Morris’s death in 1896, Kelmscott became the principal residence of his widow Jane Morris and their daughter May Morris. May, an influential textile artist and designer, lived there until the late 1930s and preserved the rooms in memory of her father.
Kelmscott, which Morris called “heaven on Earth,” was a significant source of creative inspiration for him. Many of his famous wallpaper and textile patterns that are still produced today, such as the iconic Strawberry Thief, were based on his observations of the gardens and orchard at Kelmscott.
Following an extensive refurbishment by the current owners, the Society of Antiquaries of London, Kelmscott Manor re-opened to the public in 2022 with newly restored rooms and visitor facilities. Based on archival records and original photographs, the rooms are evocative of the decorative schemes as they would have been in the Morris family’s day.
On display are personal possessions of Morris and furniture made and collected by the Morris family, original textiles, wallpaper recreated by hand from the original woodblocks in the Morris & Co archives, carpets and portraits by Rossetti.
Highlights of the Arts & Crafts interiors include the Green Room, which features Morris’s preferred shade of green and his designs in the textiles and fireplace tiles…
…the Tapestry Room hung with 17th-century tapestries from Belgium…
…the atmospheric attic…
…and the White Room, one of the oldest rooms in the house that served as the Morris family’s sitting room. On display are a Gothic Revival hooded settle made for Morris by the architect Philip Webb…
…and Rossetti’s iconic portrait of Jane Morris, The Blue Silk Dress (1868).
Arts & Crafts enthusiasts enjoy seeing Morris’s famous wallpaper and textile designs in the setting that inspired them, including Fruit in Jane’s bedroom, Daisy on the landing…
…and Lily in William Morris’s room.
Also of note is the 17th-century bed Morris slept in, adorned with striking curtains embroidered by his daughter May.
We also take travelers around the idyllic manor gardens and orchard…
…and in farm buildings like Brewhouse, once a hub of activity in the Morris household.
Kelmscott Manor also has a delightful tearoom and a shop for all things William Morris.
Just down the country lane, the village pub is a charming place for lunch or a pint.
Artisans of Leisure can incorporate Kelmscott Manor into any of our private England tours. It combines especially well with time in London and other favorite destinations in the Cotswolds like Blenheim Palace, Oxford, Hidcote Manor Garden and Chedworth Roman Villa.
We also arrange visits to other renowned Arts & Crafts destinations throughout the UK, including William Morris’s Red House, Emery Walker’s House and the Linley Sambourne House (all in London), the famous department store Liberty London on Regent Street, the Gordon Russell Design Museum in Broadway (Cotswolds), Standen House and Garden (West Sussex), Blackwell House (Lake District), the Victoria & Albert Museum (London) and Arts & Crafts homes along the Thames in London.
Contact one of our UK luxury travel specialists to begin planning a customized private England tour.