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“Life is short, but art endures” – William Morris

26th July 2017

“Ars Longa Vita Brevis” translates to “Life is short, but art endures” and is the latin motto inscribed above the fire place in the drawing room at Red House.

Red House is not only an incredibly beautiful property, but also one that shaped Morris’ life. Visiting, there’s hints throughout about his ideas about art and life. It was the first and only house Morris ever built and the first independent architectural work of his good friend Philip Webb. It was furnishing this house that inspired Morris to found his company, to give him the textiles and wallpaper with a level of skill and intricacy that he himself looked for. It was the plants and flowers in the garden that in turn shaped the first of his wall paper designs.

Remembered by many of his friends and colleagues as an incredibly happy place, a ‘dream house’ as described by The National Trust due to the fact the years he spent here with his young family were the happiest of his life. The Trust have done an incredible job of preserving ‘the beautifullest place on earth’ as described by Burne-Jones and though the rural setting is gone and many of his original furnishings scattered due to the time that has passed, the building itself is relatively untouched.

It was in the Autumn of 1858, choosing a spot above the Cray valley (at this point, still in open countryside) in Kent, in an area reminding him of his home, Kent. It was whilst in holiday in France with Philip Webb that the idea of Red House was born, and whilst they travelled down the Seine Valley, they sketched the medieval buildings they drew upon for inspiration. After Jane and Morris were married in 1859, the detailed designs for Red House were completed – at this point, it was then on to the build, which took a year and was at all times supervised by both Morris and Webb as the architect. It’s unbelievable to think the total cost of the build was £4,000.

Moving into the home in June of 1860, the decorating process could now begin!

Textile wise, at the time the floors were probably covered in Persian carpets, but all the other textiles Morris designed himself. To decorate, Morris, true to form of his aim of keeping arts and crafts alive, rediscovered forgotten arts of medieval embroidery. Jane spoke of this time decorating, “He taught me the first principles of laying stitches closely so as to cover the ground smoothly and radiating them properly. Afterwards we studied old pieces and by unpicking etc. we learnt very much but it was very uphill work but only carried through by his excessive energy and perseverance.”

Due to the fact Morris found issues in finding furnishings he felt was suitable to decorate his home, it led to the formation of is own business, ‘Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co.’  and allowed us to all benefit from their beautiful designs!

The house has always been told through anecdotes as an incredibly happy home, with a constant stream of friends visiting, full of dinners and drinks, with songs sung around the piano – one apple fight in the Drawing Room left Morris with a black eye! Georgiana said, ‘the time we spent together there was one to swear by, if human happiness were doubted.’

Quoted by the National Trust, “By 1864 the Morris firm had outgrown its first premises in Red Lion Square, and, Morris, weary of the daily commute into London, considered moving the whole business out to Bexleyheath. He also tried to get the Burne-Joneses to join him at Red House, commissioning Webb to design a matching range of buildings to enclose the central courtyard for his friends. But late in 1864 Burne-Jones’s young son Philip caught scarlet fever, which he passed on to the heavily pregnant Georgiana. The baby was born prematurely and died after only three weeks. Shattered by this tragedy and worried about money, Borne-Jones decided to pull out of the scheme. Morris and Janey were also both unwell, and their marriage was growing increasingly strained. In 1865 Morris abandoned Red House and, with it, his dream.”

If you ever get the chance to visit Red House, it’s an incredible house to see as any Morris fan, as the hub of many lovely anecdotes and inspirations for Morris, its fabulous to see it in real life! We’ve used the ‘Red House’ booklet from the National Trust for reference and quotes throughout this blog – if you’d like to know more about the house and the individual rooms, make sure you check it out!

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We hope you’re having a lovely Easter 🐣 Choccy treats galore with some beautiful Morris florals, what more could we want! 🌷🤍
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Morris fan? There’s 15% off our entire collection of licensed William Morris fabrics and products, this Easter weekend only! 🐣 Use code: EASTER15 at checkout, on our website only, until Monday at midnight 🌙 Enjoy this Easter treat from us! 🤍
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We love all the beautiful spring florals this time of year 🌷 We’ve also not been able to resist starting early on the Easter treats! 🐣
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Introducing Daisy, our latest William Morris licensed design 🌿 Daisy was the second wallpaper William Morris designed, but the first to be produced in 1864, so it remains a special design to every Morris fan ✨ It must have been a favourite of Morris himself, as embroideries of Daisy were used to decorate at the stunning Red House, Morris's home in Bexleyheath. 
We hope you love Daisy as much as we do! Available now on our website, in a limited range of products, fabric is coming soon! ☺️
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A fabric stack of William Morris floral dreams 🤍
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Spring floral ready with our William Morris Willow Bough table setting 🌿 Do your weekend plans also revolve around tea/coffee and baked goods? 🤍
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Monday done right, laying the table with our beautiful licensed William Morris Willow Bough green tablecloth, completed with a @bettys treat 🥰 
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A little fabric stack of our William Morris florals, waiting to be crafted into a project 🪡 Can you name them all from the little peak? 🌿 
All our fabrics are printed in the UK and are licensed William Morris designs, printed both size and colour wise to our own specification ✨ If you’d like a sample, just send us a message 📬
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Showcasing our licensed William Morris Lily fabric, it’s so light and bright it’s making us excited for Spring! 🌿
Designed by William Morris in 1874, it incorporates the willow background with lilies and wild flowers ✨ The design must have been well loved by Morris himself- it was the wallpaper he used to decorate his bedroom at Kelmscott Manor, his home in Lechlade, Gloucestershire 🌿
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& if you’re in the UK and would like a sample of any of our fabrics, please let us know 📮
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The different weights of fabric 🧵 We have four weights of fabrics; cotton, heavyweight, drill and pvc, all work well for different projects. For a free sample, please feel free to message us and we’ll get them sent out to you 📮
✨ For our 100% cotton, it’s great for quilting, dress making and more, our lightest weight of cotton
✨ Our heavyweight cotton is perfect for curtains and light upholstery, a heavier fabric than our 100% cotton 
✨ Our drill cotton fabric is our heaviest weave fabric, suitable for light upholstery 
✨ Our PVC is our pvc/oilcloth coated cotton fabric, brilliant as a table covering, it’s sold by the half metre and as it won’t fray, is great to put straight on the table 🌿

The cotton, heavyweight and drill cotton are all 152cm wide and the pvc fabric is 140cm wide. All are sold by the half metre 📏
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#williammorris #morris #strawberrythief #preraphaelite #onlinefabric #onlinefabricstore #fabrics #williammorrisfabric
Our blue Strawberry Thief oven gloves are back in stock, just in time for Christmas! 🎄 will you be gifting some Morris floral magic this year? Or hope to be receiving some! 🎁 Our matching sets of kitchenware and tableware are very popular this time of year, remember if you’re sending direct to your loved one, you can select for the items to be gift wrapped at checkout on our website! 🌟
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Our Black Friday sale is now live! 🥂 On our website only, use code, BLACKFRIDAY10 all weekend for 10% off your order ☺️ Ends Sunday at midnight 🌙
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Dreaming of the sunshine 💭 This is our smallest size of tote bag, in our licensed William Morris Strawberry Thief, on this bike ride we were pretty happy that it was filled to the brim with snacks to eat on the beach ☀️ On Wintery nights we love to look back on the sunshine! ☁️
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Special thank you to @adigi_agency for creating our website, we love it! 🤍
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A few of our licensed William Morris designs all hanging out, aren’t they iconic! It’s amazing that you can see a Morris print and instantly know it’s his design 🌿
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