This exhibition focuses on the history of Kelmscott House in Hammersmith, one of the most significant of designer William Morris' homes.
William Morris reported to his wife Jane that he had found one of the most beautiful houses in London when he leased Kelmscott House, Hammersmith in 1878. Certainly this 18th-century riverside house, where he spent the last 18 years of his life, is one of the most significant of Morris’s homes.
Whilst living at the property he began carpet weaving, wove his first tapestry Acanthus and Vine in his bedroom and continued his innovating approach to design, printing and dyeing techniques. Many well-known Morris & Co designs are associated with the house. In 1878 Morris designed the Bird woven wool textile to hang in the drawing room of the property and Peacock and Dragon curtains adorned the room. Pimpernel wallpaper hung in the dining room where a chair was upholstered in Rose and Thistle and a chaise lounge in Brother Rabbit. Trellis wallpaper hung in Morris’ ground floor bedroom.
During the 1880s Morris established the Hammersmith branch of the Socialist League in the Coach House of the property where speakers included George Bernard Shaw and W B Yeats. In 1891 he set up the Kelmscott Press – a private printing press – a few doors away from his home. Morris’ Albion printing press, used in the production of the magnificent Kelmscott Chaucer, still resides in the basement rooms of the property which now form the headquarters of the William Morris Society with its museum and exhibition space.
This is the first exhibition of its kind about Kelmscott House, described by George Bernard Shaw as ‘this magical house’ and will feature original Morris & Co designs, textiles and wallpapers, complemented by beautiful photographic prints. The exhibition will faithfully convey the atmosphere of the property bursting with creative energy and artistic activity. Many influential Victorians visited the property including poet Lord Alfred Tennyson, writer Lewis Carroll and art critic John Ruskin. The exhibition will also tell the story of those who inhabited the house before and after Morris including poet and novelist George MacDonald, Sir Francis Ronalds who invented the electric telegraph and actress Athene Seyler who died at the house at the grand old age of 99 years.