The former home of Willian Morris, Kelmscott was built in 1570 by a local Cotswold farmer. Morris lived in it for just over 20 years and its natural setting inspired his designs and paintings.
Richard Turner, a local farmer, built the house in about 1570 and it was let out when the family died. William Morris lived there from 1871 until he died in 1896 and it’s now owned by the Society of Antiquaries of London, who restored the house in the 1960s and the gardens in the mid-1990s.
Morris may well have used his house as inspiration for his textile patterns and furniture. He admired the traditional craftsmanship that had gone into creating the building, and said that it looked as if it had ‘grown up out of the soil’. Inside, most of the house is decorated with Morris’ textile patterns and furniture, and you’ll find a textile display in the loft, as well as some of Morris’ own collection of art including pieces by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Sir Edward Burne-Jones and Pieter Brueghel the Younger. The garden, too, has that organic quality; the well-manicured Icelandic dragon hedge blends with rambling roses, hollyhocks and old fruit trees to surround the house with a quintessential English air. Morris loved it because it seemed ‘fenced from the outside world’, and designs such as Willow Bough, Strawberry Thief and Kennet are likely to have been inspired by plants in the garden.
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